Church leaders denounce suspension of “Dubs” policy

In a joint letter to the Home Secretary, the leaders offive Churches have expressed their concern at the Government'sannouncement that it intends to suspend the programme for the safere-settlement of unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in the UnitedKingdom.

In May 2016 Parliament committed itself to an ongoingprogramme of resettlement for lone children, following Lord Dubs'amendment. While exact figures were not given in final legislation,the number envisaged was considerably more than the limit that hasnow been imposed. The intention to suspend the programme was madein a written ministerial statement earlier this week.    

In a joint statement and a letter to the Home Secretary,leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church ofScotland, Quakers in Britain, the United Reformed Church and theMethodist Church have urged the Government to reconsider and adopta policy that prioritises the wellbeing of children. The statementpoints out the potentially damaging effect of signalling to alreadyvulnerable minors that they are unlikely to find safe passage andre-settlement if they make themselves known to relevantauthorities. Compelling evidence shows that many such children havesimply "disappeared" from the temporary refugee camps. Thestatement also highlights work already done by churches andcommunity groups to provide welcome and support for refugeechildren and families, and encourages an approach that activelyseeks to engage with such agencies, rather than limiting provisionto the capacity of Local Authorities.

Commenting on the statement, Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr,Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:"We urge UK Government ministers to reconsider and we remainwilling to work with the Home Office to find creative ways todeliver on the widespread expectation on the part of the generalpublic to achieve the goal of 3,000 children as soon as possible.As Christians we believe that there is a moral imperative to 'loveour neighbour', illustrated in Jesus' parable of the GoodSamaritan, that defines anyone in need as our neighbour regardlessof race, nationality, religion, language or culture."         

Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union ofGreat Britain, commented: "I have visited some of the temporarycamps for myself and have been deeply moved both by the humanity ofthose who live there, and the vulnerability of unaccompaniedchildren and young people who seek shelter within thosecommunities. Many have already been robbed of much of theirchildhood and we have a moral responsibility to do all that we canto protect them and provide places of refuge andsupport."

The Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the MethodistConference, commented: "It is not a question of the management ofresources, but rather a matter of political will.  The waythat we treat the most vulnerable is a sign of what we aspire to beas a society."

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said:"The ability to ask for sanctuary is a human right, and thewillingness to provide it is an act of basic humanity. If theeffect of the Government's decision is that a child's safest routeto sanctuary in Britain is to risk their life on the back ofa truck, then we as a country must do better."

The Revd Kevin Watson, General Assembly Moderator of theUnited Reformed Church, added: "We lament this decision made by theGovernment, which must do all that is within its power to recogniseand uphold the rights of children fleeing conflict."



We are dismayed to hear, through the announcement from theImmigration Minister this week, of our Government's intention tosuspend its programme of resettling unaccompanied minors in March2017. We urge the Government to reconsider this decision and torecognise the potential harm that this policy mightcause.

Throughout the United Kingdom, our churches have sought tooffer welcome and practical support to refugees and asylum seekersof all ages, often working in partnership with other faith andcommunity groups. It is disappointing your consideration ofprovision is restricted to the perceived capacity of LocalAuthorities. This approach is devoid of ambition and lackscreativity. We would encourage an approach to refugee re-settlementthat actively includes and engages those community groups andagencies, who offer the potential of raising our existingcapacity.    

There is compelling evidence that many young people have"disappeared" from temporary camps. If this disturbing trend is tobe avoided in future, it is vital that they have the confidence topresent themselves to the relevant authorities at their earliestopportunity. This will only happen if they know that in so doing,they will be cared for and given safe passage. The current policyannouncement risks sending out a message that will furtherdiscourage this, and thus significantly increase the risk of harmto these children.

As the minister rightly asserted, the UK can be proud ofits record in welcoming refugee children, which now extends backfor over half a century. We believe that this should continue to bethe case and would urge the abandonment of any policy that givesany impression to the contrary.

As a nation we have a rigorous approach to safeguarding,reflecting a strong commitment to the wellbeing of children andvulnerable citizens. We do not believe that this commitment shouldbe limited by political borders.

We urge you therefore to adopt a policy that places thewellbeing and safety of children above every other consideration.Not only do we commend this as representing our own Christianvalues, but it is what we believe the overwhelming majority of UKcitizens would believe to be right and just.


Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Unionof Great Britain

Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the GeneralAssembly of the Church of Scotland

Revd Kevin Watson, General Assembly Moderator of theUnited Reformed Church

Mr Alan Yates, General Assembly Moderator of the UnitedReformed Church

Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the MethodistConference

Ms Rachel Lampard, Vice-President of the MethodistConference

Mr Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers inBritain