Ruth Davidson urged to kick-start Tory child refugee action

A host of leading Scots civic figures and celebrities have signed an open letter to Ruth Davidson urging her to put pressure on the UK government to accept more child refugees.

Wednesday, 2nd August 2017, 8:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:39 am
Ruth Davidson has been urged to take action. Picture: Neil Hanna

DJ Edith Bowman, Holywood actor Brian Cox, the Proclaimers and Alison Phipps of Unesco are all calling on the Scottish Tory leader to be “the voice for child refugees” in her party and push for more urgent action on the Dubs Amendment.

This was established last year to allow unaccompanied refugee children in camps like the now closed Calais Jungle to come to the UK, with its supporters calling for 3,000 youngsters to be accepted. Instead just 200 have arrived, and none this year, with a cap of 480 imposed.

The group, which also includes Still Game star Gavin Mitchell, author Andrew O’Hagan and singer Eddi Reader, is now calling for a meeting with Ms Davidson to discuss the issue.

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The letter states: “It has been nine months since the first child refugees arrived in Scotland under the Dubs scheme. Whilst these children start to rebuild their lives, thousands more have been left waiting.”

It adds: “Westminster may be divided on this issue, but Scotland is not. Communities, faith groups, schools and businesses have helped more refugees resettle in Scotland than any other nation in the UK. We are proud of Scotland’s response, but we must also do our bit to help refugees in Europe too.

“We note the Scottish and Welsh Governments have urged the Home Office to help more children and speed up the process. As leader of the Scottish Conservatives we urge you to be the voice for child refugees within your own Party and support the growing calls to lift the cap on this scheme.

“We also ask that you meet with us to discuss the role local communities can play in this effort.”

There were many unaccompanied children in the Calais camp, who did not have families here, which prompted the Dubs Amendment to be drawn up.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Ruth has yet to receive a letter from this organisation but, when she does, she will happily respond.”

The UK government has already held talks with officials in Greece and Italy in an attempt to speed up the child refugee process. But there are concerns that any transfers must take place in line with the national laws, as well as being done safely and “in the best interests of each child.”

Ministers insist that Britain’s policy of giving shelter to refugees from those in the region closest to Syria meant that 20,000 refugees from outside Europe would be brought to the UK by 2020.