"Migrant children should be dispersed across the country," insists Lord Alf Dubs

18 August 2020, 15:31

By Fiona Jones

Labour Peer and campaigner for refugees and asylum seekers Lord Alf Dubs explains why migrant children should be "shared across the country from Kent to Scotland."

New unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Dover will no longer be taken in by Kent County Council.

Instead, they will remain in the care of UK Border Force at Dover until they can be transferred into the care of another UK local authority with capacity to safely care for them, the council told reporters on Monday.

It comes after council leader Roger Gough announced the council had reached its capacity to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, with 1000 migrants arriving at UK shores in 10 days via small boats.

READ MORE: 'Disappointed and concerned' - Kent council reaches capacity to care for migrant children

Lord Alf Dubs told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty the responsibility of migrant children should be shared between all areas "from Kent to Scotland", sympathising with Kent for having to take most due to their geographical coastline location.

Lord Dubs posited that if the UK can get migrant children to join their families here legally "then they wouldn't have to take the risk of a journey on the dinghies and they would also go to where their families are" instead of staying in Kent.

The Labour Peer continued, "All I ask is that we take our share. Not all of them by any means, other countries should do that too and some countries are better than we are. We should take some of them as a humanitarian country to give young people a chance of having a decent life, education, and hopefully a loving foster family."

"We are a humanitarian country, we can do this," Lord Alf Dubs told LBC
"We are a humanitarian country, we can do this," Lord Alf Dubs told LBC. Picture: PA

Shelagh asked whether the UK's unwillingness to create a formal structure of acceptance and dispersal is "designed to be a deterrent" to which Lord Dubs clarified that there is an internal transfer scheme yet it is "not working all that well it seems."

"A bit of political will, a bit of political pressure on the Home Office, and children should be dispersed across the country," Lord Dubs said, telling Shelagh there are other councils and foster families willing to take children that do not have families.

Lord Dubs passed an amendment in 2016 that 3,000 of the 95,000 migrant children in Europe should be taken in by UK local authorities, however he explained the Home Office lowered this to 480 children after examining each councils' capacity.

"I think that's an excuse by the Home Office, I don't think it gets to the heart of it," he said.

He highlighted there have been a range of responses throughout the EU, with the Germans and Swedes taking many and Hungarians, for example, who refuse any refugees who are not white Christian.

"I think there should be a Europe-wide policy, including us, that we should all share responsibility, that seems to be the only sensible way forward," Lord Dubs said.

He also emphasised that while there are many arriving in dinghies from Calais, the French are taking "far more than we are."

"We're a humanitarian country, we're talking about a very small number in relation to Europe as a whole, in relation to the world as a whole. If we can be humanitarian, it's part of our tradition, it's part of what got me into this country in 1939 as a six year old.

"We're a rich enough country. We can support this."