There have been fresh calls to bring 10,000 child refugees to safety in the UK amid events celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport trains that saved many children from the Nazis.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced a new resettlement scheme for the most vulnerable refugees on Monday but did not say how many children would be included.
The charity Safe Passage said it had secured pledges from local authorities to support 1,170 child refugees and questioned why the government had so far brought just a few hundred to the UK when so many more local authority places were available for children in need of refuge.
The global refugee crisis shows no sign of abating, with more than 68.5 million people forced from their homes and nearly 25.4 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18.
Lord Dubs, whose life was saved when he came to the UK on the Kindertransport as a small child, spoke on Tuesday at a rally outside parliament organised by Safe Passage and another charity, Help Refugees.
He appealed to the government to resettle 10,000 child refugees in the next 10 years.
He said Theresa May had previously urged him to drop his amendment to the Immigration Act 2016, known as the Dubs amendment, to allow some of the most vulnerable child refugees to come to the UK because she feared “others would follow”.
“We parted without agreement,” said Dubs.
The government has two schemes to bring child refugees to the UK – the vulnerable children’s resettlement scheme (VCRS) to bring 3,000 refugees from conflict zones in the Middle East, and the Dubs scheme to bring 480 vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees from Europe.
Safe Passage’s chief executive, Eleanor Harrison, welcomed the home secretary’s announcement of a new resettlement scheme but said she remained concerned by the lack of assurances regarding safe and legal routes for children.
“In 2018 we discovered that just 20 unaccompanied children had been resettled as part of the vulnerable children’s resettlement scheme, despite up to 3,000 places being made available,” she said.
Alongside Dubs, Safe Passage has been campaigning for a commitment from the government to welcome 10,000 children over 10 years from conflict zones and Europe.
At the start of the global Refugee Week on Monday, Javid confirmed the UK planned to resettle about 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees in the first year under a scheme launching in 2020.
The scheme will consolidate the vulnerable persons’ resettlement scheme, the VCRS and the gateway protection programme, which offers a legal route for up to 750 refugees to settle in the UK each year and is run with the UN high commission for refugees, into one global scheme.
The Home Office has been approached for comment.