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Kindertransport survivor calls on government to do more for child refugees

    Lord Dubs (Picture: twitter/@AlfDubs)
    Lord Dubs (Picture: twitter/@AlfDubs)

    One of the 669 children rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton on the Kindertransport is to present an amendment to the immigration bill calling on the government to do more to help unaccompanied child refugees.

    Labour Peer Alf Dubs is expected to make an amendment to the bill today recommending that the UK take in 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from Europe.

    The amendment comes after the Home Office said it will work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to identify "exceptional cases" from camps in Syria and neighbouring countries.

    But campaigners including Lord Dubs say this is not enough and want Britain to take 3,000 children from Europe “in addition to the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.”

    Lord Dubs, who was born in Prague and rescued by Sir Nicolas in 1939, said: “This amendment is intended to seek support for the principle at stake and to get the government to explain how it intends to respond and what it meant by the vague statement it issued a week or so ago.

    “Today it is right that Britain show generosity by accepting its share of the estimated 24,000 unaccompanied children in Europe.

    “They are mainly from Syria and face a cold winter without adequate food or warmth and are vulnerable to child traffickers and the danger of being forced into prostitution.

    “This is a humanitarian challenge which we must not shirk.”

    He added: “In 1938 and 1939 the UK was the only European country to permit the Kindertransport children to enter.

    “Sir Nicky Winton who died last year aged 106 was the person largely responsible for arranging the Kindertransports from Prague.”

    More than 400 Jewish community members have signed a petition from JCORE calling on the Prime Minister to take in the lone refugee children, who have become separated from their families as a result of the refugee crisis.

    JCORE's executive director, Dr Edie Friedman, said the government’s announcement was “deeply disappointing” and “lacked the boldness of the Kindertransport.”

    Early reports from the Home Office suggest a few hundred lone children will be brought to the UK in total from Syrian refugee camps.

    The government also announced that a £10 million fund would be set up to support young refugees in Europe, something JCORE said had “the potential to make a real difference”.

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