Britain to accept 130 more child refugees after 'administrative error'


Rights groups say that Britain is still not doing enough to help refugee children

Faith leaders urge UK government to consult local authorities on their ability to accommodate vulnerable refugee children from Europe on 7 March (AFP)
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Last update: 
Thursday 27 April 2017 7:22 UTC

Britain on Wednesday announced plans to accept 130 additional child refugees after an "administrative error" limited arrivals to 350. Still, the move was criticised by campaigners as not going far enough.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill announced the new pledge after the government realised that it had missed an offer from one region to host 130 children.

Goodwill put the mistake down to "an administrative error as part of collating the figures" from a consultation with local authorities, telling parliament a total of 480 unaccompanied young migrants will now be welcomed.

"As outlined in my original statement, the specified number includes over 200 children already transferred from France as part of the Calais camp clearance," he added.

The minister's announcement in February that just 350 children would be brought to the UK frustrated campaigners, including the main advocate of the scheme, opposition Labour politician Alf Dubs, who had proposed a figure of 3,000. 

Dubs, who came to Britain as a child fleeing the Nazis, on Wednesday criticised the government for its handling of the consultation.

"I'm delighted for the sake of those 130 children, but shocked and disgusted that the government has made such a mess of this.

"I don't like the way they're doing it just before the election - the government should be ashamed of themselves," he said, referring to the 8 June national vote.

Hayley Cull, head of UK campaigns at UN children's agency UNICEF, urged the government to do more to help children in danger. 

"We still need a long-term plan so children never have to make dangerous journeys into and across Europe in order to reach safety," she said.

In March, the UK instituted a new government policy that reviews a refugee's status after five years.

Under new Home Office instructions, the UK will now review the safety of a refugee’s home country after five years.

In 2016, the UK granted permanent settlement to 13,071 refugees, the Home Office said.

The UK, under former prime minister David Cameron, vowed to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

More than 100,000 refugee and migrant children arrived in Europe last year, 33,800 of which were unaccompanied or separated from their parents and main care giver, the UN and International Organization for Migration said earlier this month.