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New figures on child refugees make a mockery of Tory promises

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Sea routes are becoming deadlier, but the Tories are refusing to offer refuge, says Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2629
Many ordinary people have organised solidarity with refugees - but the government has gone back on promises to help them
Many ordinary people have organised solidarity with refugees – but the government has gone back on promises to help them (Pic: DuncanC/Flickr)

Just 20 unaccompanied children have been resettled in Britain directly from refugee camps in the Middle East.

The Tories had promised to resettle up to 3,000 over the course of four years when the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) was launched in 2016.

The figures released to the Observer newspaper show far fewer have been let in.

Then-prime minister David Cameron also promised to allow 20,000 Syrian refugees into Britain.

Sea routes are also becoming deadlier for refugees. For every 18 people who crossed the Mediterranean between January and July, one has died or gone missing.

That’s up from one death for every 42 people who crossed in the same period in 2017.

Almost 2,000 refugees have already died trying cross the Mediterranean since January.

The annual figure could surpass the 3,139 refugees who drowned in 2017—including an estimated 300 children.

The VCRS was brought in at the height of the refugee crisis.

Direct action by refugees and a mass outpouring of solidarity across society put the Tories and the European Union’s (EU) rulers under pressure.

Yet since then the right has gone on the offensive.


Far right and racist governments in Austria, Italy and Hungary are pushing for more internal border controls.

And “centrist” leaders, such as German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron, are also pushing through a racist clampdown.

They want to reinforce the EU’s external borders.

Those refugees who do make it into Europe face barbed wire, police batons and destitution. Over 1,000 refugees are trapped at Britain’s border in Calais as freezing weather approaches. Another set of figures showed that the Tories have accepted 220 unaccompanied children under a separate scheme known as the Dubs Amendment.

The Tories agreed to bring in 480 children—down from the 3,000 pushed for by Labour peer Lord Dubs.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Care4Calais are organising a two-day delegation to Calais from 8 December.

The delegation will bring much-needed supplies, but it’s also about bringing political solidarity and building a movement in Britain.

The only solution to the situation in Calais is to open the border and let all of the refugees into Britain.

The Tories’ racist treatment of refugees hammers home the need to take on state-sponsored racism and the far right it fuels.

A key opportunity to do this is the SUTR national demonstration against racism and fascism in London on 17 November.

Threat to migrants who seek welfare

Immigration officers have been placed in at least eight local councils in London.

It is another sign that home secretary Sajid Javid has not dropped the “hostile environment” policy despite warm words in the wake of the Windrush scandal.

The officers can sit in on a range of interviews with migrants from outside the European Union who are trying to access council-run services.

Many migrants are hit by the No Recourse To Public Funds rule, which stops them using council and NHS services.

The Project 17 charity said officers had threatened to deport migrants seeking welfare or offered them “voluntary return”.

The councils are Bexley, Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Enfield, Lewisham, Croydon, Hackney and Harrow.

All of them, apart from Bexley, are controlled by Labour Party administrations.

Labour-run Southwark council in south London removed the immigration officer after allegations that they had given incorrect advice to migrants.

Similarly, Labour-run Haringey council in north London dropped its officer in 2017 after a series of complaints.

This shows that councils are vulnerable to pressure from anti-racist campaigning.

Solidarity with the Stansted 15

Around 100 people rallied outside Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday in solidarity with 15 activists facing jail under terror legislation.

The “Stansted 15” tried to stop a deportation flight at Stansted Airport in Essex in March 2017.

The jet was chartered by the Home Office to deport detainees to Africa.

Their trial restarted at the beginning of last month and is continuing.

The Crown Prosecution Service brought charges against them under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

This is a piece of terrorism legislation which has never been used against political protesters before.

It allows for lengthy sentences, including life imprisonment.

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