Lord Alfie Dubs was a member of the Kinder-transport – German and Eastern European children admitted to the UK between 1938-40, to save them from the death camps in Germany. Kinder-transport was an astonishing scheme, admitting 10,000 children in less than 2 years, and finding homes for them throughout the UK. So campaigners are this year celebrating the 80th anniversary of this outstanding example of British generosity with a call to government to mount another such welcome: of 1000 young migrants per year over 10 years from the migrant camps around Europe.
In May 2016 Lord Dubs won a significant victory when David Cameron’s government agreed to admit up to 3000 migrant unaccompanied minors from across Europe and beyond. This provision was later overturned but Dubs and others are campaigning to have it reinstated in the new EU withdrawal bill, debated on June 12th. Known as the Dubs Amendment, one aspect, ‘Dublin 3’, in particular, seeks to ensure that those with families in the UK are reunited. The Lords accepted this amendment recently, but victory in the Commons is more uncertain.
Campaigners now have the task of contacting their local councils, first, to ask if they have already arranged fostering for any of these children and second, if they will agree to do so. Hammersmith Council, inspired by the Kinder-transport campaign launch at Westminster last week, has agreed to take 100 children. Well-known children’s writer Michael Morpurgo has written a playlet on the subject, which groups can obtain to perform in their local area, so as to raise awareness, and persuade their councils to commit.
The group behind this ambitious campaign is Safe Passage, which has so far managed to arrange for 1000 young migrants to enter the UK legally. They want as ambitious an agreement for this group as has been obtained for refugee families through the Community Sponsorship s and Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Schemes. We can admit 10,000 young people over 10 years.
Westminster Justice and Peace has been delighted to support the Safe Passage campaign, as a consequence of our seeing so many youngsters on the Calais UK border forced to seek illegal means of crossing the Channel. More details can be found on the Safe Passage website at http://safepassage.org.uk/get-involved/kinder-transport/ We hope that churches will take up this campaign. Foster families will be needed, but as often quoted, it takes a village (or a parish!) to raise a child.
Barbara Kentish is the J&P Worker for Westminster Diocese.