Dubs Now: We should protect lone child refugees, not abandon them

by Help Refugees Ltd

Dubs Now: We should protect lone child refugees, not abandon them

by Help Refugees Ltd
Help Refugees Ltd
Help Refugees Ltd is a movement of everyday people taking joint action to improve the lives of refugees. We believe the the UK has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable children in Europe.
Funded
on 26th January 2018
£39,009
pledged by 1149 people
Help Refugees Ltd
Help Refugees Ltd is a movement of everyday people taking joint action to improve the lives of refugees. We believe the the UK has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable children in Europe.

Latest: Feb. 12, 2018

We've submitted our arguments for appeal!

We are delighted to announce that our wonderful legal team, from Leigh Day Solicitors, have submitted our arguments for the appeal. We are one step closer to the case being heard!

They have gone in...

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Help Refugees Ltd is delighted to announce that we have been granted permission to appeal the judgment on our judicial review, challenging the Home Office’s interpretation and implementation of the Dubs Amendment. This appeal is our chance to bring a greater number of lone refugee children to safety in the UK. 

But to do this, we need your help.


“The Dubs Amendment has provided a lifeline for over 200 children so far - but this appeal gives us the chance to bring a greater number to safety. The conditions faced by unaccompanied refugee children are dreadful. The government promised to act, but after nearly 2 years, they have failed to fulfil their promise to the British people - and to these vulnerable children. This appeal gives us the chance to hold them to account, and offer sanctuary to those in Europe who need it most.”

Lord Alf Dubs 

Background 

Help Refugees was established in 2015, in response to the deteriorating situation faced by refugees in Calais. Since then, we have been powered by the incredible donations of time, money and funds from ordinary people - and have been able to help over 600,000 people across Europe and the Middle East.

With your support, we successfully advocated for the passage of the Dubs Amendment in April 2016 - named after Lord Alf Dubs, himself a child refugee who arrived in the UK on a Kindertransport train. The scheme pledged to resettled a “specified number” of unaccompanied refugee children from France, Greece and Italy to the UK, to be decided in consultation with Local Authorities. We had seen the conditions that the children were living in: we knew that opening safe and legal routes would save lives.

But the passage of this Amendment was followed by six months of governmental inaction: between April and October 2016, not a single child was transferred under the Dubs Amendment. Even now, the progress of transfers is very slow. 


The litigation 

In February 2017, the government announced that the number of children transferred would be capped at 350. Help Refugees Ltd's litigation, supported by the voices of people like you, challenged the consultation on which this number was based - and the Home Office was eventually forced to concede that it had ‘missed’ 130 places offered by local authorities. The number of places was thus raised to 480 - but we believe the number is still far too low, and does not accurately represent the capacity and willingness of local authorities to support these vulnerable children.

Our legal challenge to the Home Office’s mismanagement of the Dubs Amendment now centres on two issues:  

i. the inadequate consultation with local authorities to determine capacity (the Leader of London Borough of Ealing Council described the consultation as “chaotic”, “cursory”, “puzzling” and “wholly inadequate”); and 

ii.  the lack of procedural safeguards for children who were considered for relocation.

The High Court ruled against us on 2 November 2017. We immediately sought permission to appeal, which was granted last week by the Court of Appeal. But now we need your help.


Results of this litigation - past and future 

If successful, this appeal could result in a re-consultation with Local Authorities, and - potentially - a greater number of places offered to welcome unaccompanied refugee children. 

This litigation and the pressure from voices like your own have already achieved significant victories: 

  • Before our litigation started in October 2016, not a single child had been transferred under the Dubs Amendment. The children that the Home Office said publicly had been transferred under the Dubs Amendment had in fact been transferred under a separate EU law, that had been in force since 2013;
  • Transfers of children from Calais to the UK, under the Dubs Amendment, started days after we issued our legal claim and under heavy  public pressure; 
  • We obtained a declaration in the High Court that the Home Office’s initial interpretation of the Dubs Amendment was incorrect; 
  • Our enquiries in the litigation compelled the Home Office to admit that it had ‘missed’ 130 places, and increase the number of places for unaccompanied children from 350 to 480; 
  • We challenged the very stringent criteria applied to select eligible children for transfer, which the Home Office has since abandoned. Just last week, Amber Rudd announced that the previous deadline for registration in Europe - 20 March 2016 - would be replaced by a new one, 18 January 2018. This means that new arrivals, who face the same acute risks as the children arriving to Europe two years ago, may also be given safe passage under the Amendment.


Children at risk, and in dire conditions 

“The crisis these children are facing is still as desperate now as it was when the amendment was passed.” 

- Josie Naughton, CEO and co-founder of Help Refugees Ltd

Photo by Claire Wilson.

In Calais, approximately 200 unaccompanied children are currently sleeping without any shelter. Refugees have reported that their blankets and possessions are regularly seized by police or sprayed with tear gas, rendering them unusable. These unbearable conditions are pushing refugees to take greater risks in their attempts to reach the UK: in three weeks, between late December and the start of this year, three people lost their lives at the border - including a 15-year-old boy.

In Greece, there are more that 3350 unaccompanied minors - and only 1101 places available in shelters. The waiting list is more than twice the capacity. Children who are not offered formal protection are sleeping in squats and on the streets, making them incredibly vulnerable to exploitation.

In Italy, more than 15, 000 lone children arrived just last year. As in Greece, a lack of reception capacity means that children are left without shelter or basic protection.

These vulnerable children face unimaginable risks. This appeal could give a greater number of them the chance to come to the UK, and begin a new life here: safe from the exploitative rings of smugglers and traffickers, and away from the streets and detention centres.

 

The collective voices of people like you that ensured the Dubs Amendment was passed. Now, we need your help to make a life-saving difference to some of the most vulnerable children in Europe today - by litigating to ensure that the Government implements the Dubs Amendment properly. Together, we can give vulnerable children the chance to live in safety. 


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Update 12

Help Refugees Ltd

Feb. 12, 2018

We've submitted our arguments for appeal!

We are delighted to announce that our wonderful legal team, from Leigh Day Solicitors, have submitted our arguments for the appeal. We are one step closer to the case being heard!

They have gone in to extensive detail about the inadequacy of the consultative process, by which the "specified number" was decided, and called in to question the Home Office's interpretation of procedural fairness. A copy of the arguments will be uploaded on to our website soon. 

Huge thanks to the brilliant lawyers, and to everyone who has supported the case so far. We couldn't do what we do, without people like you. 

- Team HR x 

Update 11

Help Refugees Ltd

Jan. 25, 2018

£10, 000 raised in just 24 hours!

With an incredible outpouring of public support, we raised over £10,000 for our Dubs appeal in the 24 hours following our launch! Thank you to everyone who has supported the case so far – your generosity has astounded us once again. We really couldn’t do what we do, without people like you.


Our fundraising goal is for £30, 000, which covers our protection of costs order. If we are successful, we will not need to pay these costs – in which case, your donation will go towards supporting one of the 80+ projects we support in Europe and the Middle East.

 

The public support for the Dubs Amendment has been outstanding since the very beginning. Almost two years on, we are so proud to be taking this case forward as a collective. After all, every success we have had is the result of extraordinary citizens campaigning to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children.


We are so grateful to every person who has supported our case so far. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.



Update 10

Help Refugees Ltd

Jan. 19, 2018

Eligibility deadline revoked for lone children!

Amber Rudd announced that the previous deadline for children’s registration in Europe - 20 March 2016 - would be replaced by a new one, 18 January 2018. This means that new arrivals, who face the same acute risks as the children arriving to Europe two years ago, may also be given safe passage under the  Dubs Amendment.

We had campaigned against the Home Office’s application of such stringent criteria, including the eligibility date and the use of criteria such as age and nationality, and are thrilled to see its abandonment. This truly is a step in the right direction - but the woefully inadequate "specified number" must be revisited. This appeal is our chance to do exactly that.

Update 9

Help Refugees Ltd

Jan. 12, 2018

We've been granted permission to appeal!

On 12th January, we were granted permission for our appeal to be heard at the Court of Appeal. We are now fundraising to cover the Protection of Costs order, which is needed for our case to be heard. 

If successful, this appeal could result in a re-consultation with Local Authorities, and - potentially - a greater number of places offered to welcome unaccompanied refugee children.

Update 8

Help Refugees Ltd

Nov. 2, 2017

The Court rules against Help Refugees

The Court ruled against us – but we immediately sought permission to appeal. Our CEO and co-founder, Josie Naughton, said:

“We are bitterly disappointed by this result but also very proud of what our litigation has already achieved.

“At the time our litigation was issued, not a single child had been transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment. Transfers began under the pressure of this litigation and under the pressure from campaigners and parliamentarians.

“We’ve unearthed 130 extra places, which the government eventually admitted it had overlooked. These places for children are needed now more than ever. There are young unaccompanied children sleeping rough in Europe completely unprepared for the coming winter. We intend to appeal.”

Thousands of people signed our petition, calling for #DubsNow, and highlighting that the government’s existing obligations – for 480 places to be filled, of which more than half remained empty – stand.

We called upon the government to safely transfer these children before Christmas, to ensure that unaccompanied minors would not be left to needlessly face a cold winter in camps or on the streets. Yet, as of January 2018, more than 260 places remain unfulfilled.

Update 7

Help Refugees Ltd

June 20, 2017

Help Refugees' legal challenge is heard

Help Refugees’ challenge was heard in the High Court, from the 20th June 2017 onwards.

There are three sets of issues in this litigation.

First, Help Refugees is challenging the Government’s decision to close the Dubs Scheme. In particular, the Help Refugees legal team argues that the Government’s consultation with local authorities by which it reached the low number of 350 children to be relocated (later raised to 480) was seriously defective. Help Refugees will present a substantial amount of evidence to the High Court, including evidence of hundreds of places for children that it says were unlawfully omitted by the Government from the calculation of the nationwide capacity. 

  • The Leader of London Borough of Ealing Council describes the consultation as “chaotic”, “cursory”, “puzzling” and “wholly inadequate”.
  • The Leader of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council similarly describes the consultation as an “incorrect and incompetent…process”.
  • Officials at Brighton and Hove City Council “do not believe there was a genuine consultation with [their Council] over the Dubs scheme”.
  • The Leader of London Borough of Lambeth Council, provides a detailed explanation of why if the “very brief consultation”’ had been “less hasty and more thorough” then “a more accurate and potentially higher number of places could have been indicated and subsequently been made available” to Dubs children.
  • London Borough of Ealing Council’s Councillor Julian Bell said “if this was a consultation then, in my view and that of my officers, it was cursory to the point that I did not even recognise what it was”
  • The Director of Children’s Services at London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Steve Miley, described the process as “an invisible consultation”.

Second, Help Refugees is challenging the Government’s failure to implement its expressly urgent statutory duty quickly. Although section 67 came into force on 31 May 2016,

  • the Government waited until 8 February 2017 to announce the ‘specified number’ of children it intended to relocate (initially 350);
  • only approximately 200 children have so far been relocated to the UK under the Dubs Amendment, all from the Calais Camp; and
  • The Government has yet to indicate when the next round of relocations, from Greece and Italy will begin;
  • Yet the Government is maintaining a policy (first adopted in July 2016) that children will only qualify for relocation under Dubs if the children were present in Europe before 20 March 2016.

In particular, the Help Refugees legal team is arguing that having delayed so long in implementing the Dubs Amendment, it is unlawful for the Government to maintain its policy of a 20 March 2016 cut-off point for refugee children’s eligibility for relocation under Dubs.

  1. Help Refugees is also challenging the lack of fundamental procedural safeguards for unaccompanied refugee children who receive adverse decisions about their eligibility for relocation. The Government has refused to give written reasons or any written decisions to children who are refused relocation, nor any formal mechanism by which children can challenge refusals which they believe to be wrong. The unaccompanied children formerly at the Jungle Camp in Calais were told orally, often in groups, and without explanation, that they had been refused relocation to the UK.
Update 6

Help Refugees Ltd

Feb. 8, 2017

The scheme has been capped - at just 350 children

The Government announced that the Dubs scheme would be capped at 350 children. Peers from the House of Commons lamented this woefully small number, describing the decision as “shameful”. The Home Affairs Select Committee said that this number was “far lower than many people had anticipated”, and “cast some doubt on how thorough the consultation undertaken by the Home Office to establish the capacity of local authorities to take more migrant children had been.”

The Government claimed that this number was agreed in consultation with local authorities; however, Help Refugees Ltd. challenged the consultation on which the number was based. Among many points raised by our legal team was the surprising absence of any offers from the entire English South-West. The Home Office was eventually forced to concede, in this litigation, that it had ‘missed’ 130 places offered by local authorities in the English South-West.

The number of children to be relocated under the Dubs Scheme was therefore increased by 37% on 26 April 2017, to 480.


It should also be noted that:

  • No places were recorded by the Home Office as being available for Dubs children in all of Northern Ireland;
  • Only six places were recorded by the Home Office as being available for Dubs children in all of Scotland (all six places from just one local authority in Scotland). In fact, 91% of the places offered by Scottish local authorities, sent soon after the consultation period ended, were not counted towards the specified number under the Dubs Amendment.
  • Only six places were recorded by the Home Office as being available for Dubs children in all of Wales (again, all six from just one local authority in Wales). In fact, at least 86% of the places offered by Welsh local authorities, sent soon after the consultation period ended, were not counted towards the specified number.
  • In England, at least 45% of places offered were discounted by the Home Office, because those offers did not meet the Home Office’s (unpublished) criteria for the format in which responses should be provided to its purported consultation or because the offers came after the Home Office’s (unpublished) cut-off date for responses.

This led to obvious and serious defects in the Home Office’s assessment of nationwide capacity:

  • Scotland and Wales, which have a joint population of approximately 8.5 million people, were recorded by the Home Office as having offered to resettle just 12 refugee children between them (which equates to around one child per 700,000 inhabitants).
  • England, which has a population of more than 54 million, was treated as having pledged to resettle just 385 children (which equates to around one child per 140,000 inhabitants).
Update 5

Help Refugees Ltd

Dec. 16, 2016

It's official: the government's interpretation was incorrect

Prior to Help Refugees Ltd.’s litigation, no children had been transferred under Dubs.

At that time, those few children relocated to the UK from Europe were being relocated under a separate, pre-existing EU law duty (the Dublin III Regulation) to reunite unaccompanied children with their family members. The Government argued that it could comply with the Dubs Amendment by carrying out its pre-existing duties under EU law to reunite unaccompanied children with their family members.

However, the High Court granted Help Refugees a declaration confirming our interpretation of the Dubs Amendment: the Dubs Amendment is a new duty owed to those unaccompanied children who are not already entitled to relocation under EU law. It provides safe transfer to unaccompanied children who not have family in the UK, extending sanctuary to some of the most vulnerable children in Europe.

Update 4

Help Refugees Ltd

Oct. 18, 2016

Help Refugees' litigation begins

By October, not a single child had been safely transferred under the Dubs Amendment. As the eviction of the so-called Jungle in Calais drew closer, public pressure grew as thousands of ordinary people called for the safe relocation of these vulnerable young people.

Help Refugees Ltd. initiated litigation, and just days after – thanks to your incredible support and advocacy – the transfers of children from Calais began. In the weeks that followed, approximately 200 children were brought to safety. But the scheme then ground to a halt.

Update 3

Help Refugees Ltd

May 4, 2016

The Dubs Amendment is approved

The government responded to the Dubs Amendment, and agreed that it would work with local authorities to identify the number of spaces available for children eligible for transfer. The Home Office also announced that children had to be registered in Europe (in France, Greece or Italy) before 20 March 2016 – the date of the EU-Turkey Deal.


Lord Dubs’ revised Amendment was added to the Immigration Bill, in the following wording:

Unaccompanied refugee children: relocation and support

(1) The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.

(2) The number of children to be resettled under subsection (1) shall be determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities.

(3) The relocation of children under subsection (1) shall be in addition to the resettlement of children under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

 

The Bill came in to force on 31 May 2016. However, this was followed by six months of governmental inaction.

Update 2

Help Refugees Ltd

April 25, 2016

The Dubs Amendment is debated in Commons

The Dubs Amendment, in its first iteration, was voted down. The number of 3000 unaccompanied children – less than five per constituency – was deemed too high, and voted down by the House of Commons.


The vote was close: 294 MPs voted it down, to 276 who supported it. But the number 294 had another, more poignant significance: it was the same number of unaccompanied minors who were living in the Jungle at the time, as found by Help Refugees’ census.

The Amendment was revised, and heard again in the Lords – this time, with a pledge to resettle a “specified number” of children, to be decided in consultation with local authorities.

Update 1

Help Refugees Ltd

March 21, 2016

The Dubs Amendment passes in the Lords!

After incredible campaigning and public pressure, the Dubs Amendment – a proposal to bring 3000 unaccompanied children currently in France, Greece and Italy to the UK – passed in the House of Lords, with 306 votes to 204.

However, it was then moved to debate in the House of Commons, where it faced stiff opposition.

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