Camden politicians, charity heads and religious leaders plead with Amber Rudd over child refugees

Lord Dubs Picture: Katie Collins/PA

Lord Dubs Picture: Katie Collins/PA - Credit: PA WIRE

Dozens of politicians, religious leaders, charity heads and cultural groups in Camden have signed a letter pleading with Home Secretary Amber Rudd to change her mind on settling child refugees in Britain.

Cllr Sian Berry, one of the signatories Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

Cllr Sian Berry, one of the signatories Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The signatories – among them Edward Hall and Greg Ripley-Duggan of Hampstead Theatre, Raymond Simonson of JW3 and the Rev Marjorie Brown of St Mary the Virgin in Primrose Hill – are calling on Ms Rudd to continue with plans to allow 3,000 lone child refugees to live in the country under the Dubs scheme.

The Government announced on February 8 that it would be capping the number of children entering the UK under the plan at 350, but said it will have settled 20,000 Syrians in the UK by 2020, alongside 3,000 children and families from the wider Middle East, and provided £2.3billion in aid to Syria and the region.

The letter, signed by 28 people from the borough, explains: “Children are amongst the most vulnerable individuals affected by conflict, natural disasters, trafficking and war, and as a society and community of individuals and groups, we are deeply committed to ensuring they are safe.

“We recognise that any of these children could be ‘our children’ and that we have a moral and practical duty to help those in need.”

Edward Hall

Edward Hall - Credit: Archant

It adds that, as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Britain’s actions “must be consistent with what we have signed up”.

It goes on: “We must have the courage to act on our principles and avoid falling into the unsubstantiated belief that offering children who are in desperate need of care are ‘incentivised’ to leave their homes, families and communities by our support.”

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The signatories also object to the primary reason for the Government’s decision to renege on the agreement, which they say is based on a consultation with local authorities.

The letter states: “This is deeply surprising, as in 2015 Camden Council gave a commitment to resettle up to 20 refugee families in the borough, and has now resettled 19 families and 12 Dubs children.

Raymond Simonson Picture: Polly Hancock

Raymond Simonson Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

“In order to keep the promise made in the Dubs scheme, each of the UK’s 418 principal councils would need only resettle around 7 families each.

“As a society, we stand keen and ready to help. We urge the government to work constructively and proactively to enable local authorities to do their part, and to engage civil society in making this a success.”

Cllr Flick Rea, another signatory Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllr Flick Rea, another signatory Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock