Around 50 people staged a protest outside Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd’s house demanding more child refugees are admitted into the UK.
They held a large banner with the Home Secretary’s words from last October’s Tory Party Conference reading: ‘Our compassion does not stop at the border’ and also hand-delivered a letter to her home on Sunday (February 12).
Last week Mrs Rudd was forced to defend the Government against accusations of ‘shameful’ behaviour by Labour after the Home Office said it would limit the number of children taken by the country via the so-called Dubs amendment to 350.
But when challenged in the House of Commons she said the Dubs scheme ‘is not closed’.
A spokesperson from the group Hastings Kindertransport 2017, which organised the protest, said: “Last year Amber Rudd said that her compassion did not stop at the border.
“However, her actions in cutting short the scheme to bring vulnerable child refugees into the UK, show very clearly that her compassion is spent.
“Many local authorities, including Hastings, are willing and able to support some of these children, but the Home Office is nonetheless intent on refusing them entry.
“This stance is absolutely inhumane. Amber Rudd has a comfortable home, unlike these children, so we came here to demand that she honour the spirit of the Dubs amendment and agree to let in at least 3,000 of the refugee children who are living in dangerous and squalid conditions across the Channel.”
The scheme was put forward by Lord Dubs as an amendment to the Immigration Act, requiring the Government to accept a number of unaccompanied refugee children, and although a formal number was not set, he originally proposed a figure of 3,000.
However in last week’s statement, immigration minister Robert Goodwill announced that 350 children would be settled in the UK under the Dubs scheme, on top of resettling Syrian nationals and vulnerable children from the Middle East and the North African region.
In a letter to fellow MPs over the weekend Mrs Rudd said: “We were obliged by the Immigration Act to put a specific number on how many children we would take based on a consultation with local authorities about their capacity.
“This is the number that we have published and we will now be working in Greece, Italy and France to transfer further children under the amendment.
“We’re clear that behind these numbers are children and it’s vital that we get the balance right between enabling eligible children to come to the UK as quickly as possible and ensuring local authorities have capacity to host them and provide them with the support and care they will need.
“We consulted extensively with local authorities over several months to reach this number, but if your local authority is contacting you suggesting they have extra capacity to take children then please encourage them to participate in the National Transfer Scheme.
“Each year we have around 3,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrive in Britain and currently a small number of councils are taking a disproportionate share of the burden in caring for these children.”
She continued: “I’m proud of the action this Government has taken, and will continue to take, to support and care for the most vulnerable children caught up in the crisis in Syria.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are not giving up on vulnerable children who are fleeing conflict and danger. Thanks to the goodwill of the British public and local authorities in the last year alone, we have provided refuge or other forms of leave to more than 8,000 children.
“Our commitment to resettle 350 unaccompanied children from Europe is just one way we are helping. We have also committed to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable children and family members from the MENA region and 20,000 Syrians by the end of this Parliament. We have a proud history of offering protection to those who need it and children will continue to arrive in the UK from around the world through our other resettlement schemes and asylum system.
“We’re also clear that behind these numbers are children. It’s vital that we get the balance right between enabling eligible children to come to the UK as quickly as possible and ensuring local authorities have capacity to host them and provide them with the support they will need.”
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