They MUST be given the chance of life: Labour peer Lord Dubs calls for UK to take its fair share of the 5,000 child migrants languishing in Greek camps
- Labour peer Lord Dubs, himself a former child refugee, led calls for Britain to take in at least 5,000 child refugees as other cities step up to take them in
- Children could start arriving in Germany within two weeks as Berlin has already agreed to take in unaccompanied minors from Greek camps
- It comes after the Mail highlighted the plight of children in squalid conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos, calling on Brussels to do more
Britain faced calls to accept its share of lone migrant children stuck in Greek camps last night after a string of European cities vowed to take in thousands.
Barcelona, Amsterdam and Nuremberg were among the cities that said yesterday they were ‘stepping up’ to take a ‘fair share’ of more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors.
Labour peer Lord Dubs, himself a former child refugee, led calls for Britain to follow suit.
He told the Mail: ‘This is a great development and it’s the humanitarian thing to do. It gives these children, who are living in a terrible and dangerous situation, a chance at life.’
Refugee kids with masks in the crowded Moria Detention Center, there is no possibility of social distancing. The masks are given by Danish NGO, Team Humanity
It comes after the Mail highlighted the plight of children in squalid conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos, calling on Brussels to do more.
Lord Dubs, who arrived in the UK in 1939 after fleeing the Nazis, added: ‘We are not the worst country in Europe, but we can do a lot better.
Charities say conditions have worsened for migrant children amid the coronavirus crisis, with lockdowns on camps leading to an increase in violence.
In a joint letter to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, the mayors of the ten cities – in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Germany – wrote: ‘We can provide these children with what they now so urgently need: to get out of there, to have a home, to be safe, to have access to medical care and to be looked after by dedicated people.’
The pledges are subject to agreement by the countries’ governments.
But children could start arriving in Germany within two weeks as Berlin has already agreed to take in unaccompanied minors from Greek camps.
EU leaders have failed to agree reforms to the bloc’s asylum policy for more than three years, with charities saying the deadlock has let conditions worsen.
A migrant family wearing handmade protective face masks stand next to their tent in the camp of Moria in the island of Lesbos on March 28, 2020 as the country is under lockdown
Countries on the front line, such as Greece and Italy, have for years been calling for the EU27 countries to take a fairer share. Beth Gardiner-Smith, of charity Safe Passage International, called on the UK to join the initiative, saying 1,400 places had been identified.
She said: ‘At times of international crisis the UK has a track record in leading by example and offering sanctuary to some of the most vulnerable refugees.
‘With increased risk to children in overcrowded camps due to Covid-19, that UK leadership is needed today.’
Between 2010 and last year, Britain took in 41,396 asylum seekers and refugees under 18.
A woman helps a child with a mask after members of NGO “Team Humanity” gave out handmade protective face masks to migrants and refugees in the camp of Moria
But only 27 per cent of these, or 11,338, were lone children.
In December the Mail revealed how thousands of youngsters in the Moria camp, in Lesbos, were being exposed to violence, forced to go without medicine and bed down in paper-thin tents in freezing temperatures.
Yesterday Dr Apostolos Veizis, director of medical programmes in Greece for Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the Greek government’s lockdown on camps had caused violence, explaining: ‘You have people spending more time together in a crowded situation and of course, if you have lack of resources that brings an increase of violence over those resources and between the different communities, including domestic violence but also sexual violence.’