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Tuesday, 14th Mar 2017

Green Councillors defend Dubs amendment

Press Release: Bristol Green councillors defend Dubs amendment

Green councillor, Eleanor Combley has brought a motion to voice Bristol City Council’s support for the Dubs amendment (1) and willingness to do its fair share to resettle vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees who are already in Europe.

Councillor Combley said,

“The government are trying to blame local authorities for the decision to close the scheme so early, so I thought it was important to put our support for the scheme on public record. Bristol has offered places to ten children under the scheme, but so far we have only been sent half that number.”

“I think that people in Bristol have a strong sense of fair play. We want to do our share in this crisis, as previous generations did with children displaced by World War II or the Vietnam War. If every local authority did as much as us in proportion to their population, we would be half way to finding homes for all of Britain’s share of the unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.”

Green Party Local Government spokesperson Tony Dyer said;

“The Dubs amendment refers to the Government pledge named after the Labour peer, Lord Alf Dubs, who campaigned for the UK to accept lone children. It committed the government to relocate vulnerable lone child refugees in France, Italy and Greece ‘as soon as possible’ with charities expecting the figure to reach 3,000.  However, the Conservative Government closed the scheme after accepting just 350 children.”

“The Dubs amendment aimed to help some of the estimated 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children across Europe, with UNICEF having identified that thousands of them were ‘alone and are highly vulnerable’.  Abandoning thousands of vulnerable children to an unknown fate is yet another shameful act by this hard-hearted government.”

Councillor Combley added,

“There has been a great response from local groups to the needs of children and families who have lost their homes in the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. I hope the publicity around this crisis has encouraged a lot of people in this city to consider fostering or mentoring. We have a great, supportive team in Children’s Services and wonderful children and young people, whether born in the city or coming here seeking refuge, who could really benefit.” (2)

NOTES

1 The motion submitted to Full Council today, 14th March, reads;

Motion 9 - Support for Dubs amendment

Motion submitted by: Cllr Eleanor Combley, Green, Bishopston and Ashley Down ward.

Full Council notes that:

There are tens of thousands of unaccompanied child refugees across Europe. [1]

  1. The UK has taken 200 such children, of whom 5 are settled in Bristol. [2]

  2. The UK has agreed to take 150 more such children, of whom 5 have been offered a place in Bristol. [2]

If all EU countries took an equal proportion, the UK’s share would be over 3000 children.[3]

Full Council believes:

  1. That all countries have a moral obligation to provide for children displaced by war and unrest.

  2. That if all councils in the country responded as Bristol has already in proportion to their population, the UK would be able to support 1500 unaccompanied asylum seeking minors immediately. [4]

In keeping with our status as a City of Sanctuary, Bristol should be prepared to increase our offer if asked to by central government.

Full Council resolves to:

  1. Ask the Mayor on our behalf to write to the City’s MPs asking them to support the continuation of the Dubs scheme.

  2. Express our thanks to BCC Children’s Services for their hard work in ensuring the safety of all unaccompanied asylum seeking minors in Bristol, whether they come under the Dubs scheme or other routes.

Ask the Mayor, in his contacts with other civic leaders, to promote the need to offer places for a fair share of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors in their areas.”

[1] https://fullfact.org/immigration/unaccompanied-refugee-children-europe/

[2] Report presented to Corporate Parenting Panel (full report not publicly available due to confidentiality issues).

[3]http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=1&init=1&pcode=tec00001&language=en (Note: If the allocation were done in proportion to population, the UK’s share would be over 11000; in proportion to economy size, the UK’s share would be over 15000.)

[4] https://www.bristol.gov.uk/statistics-census-information/the-population-of-bristol

 

2 More information on fostering and adoption in Bristol available from https://www.facebook.com/BristolFostering

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