The SNP has criticised the UK government for “consciously failing” vulnerable refugees and unaccompanied children, and has called on the government to live up to its moral responsibility under its resettlement schemes.
Brendan O’Hara MP slammed the UK government after figures revealed in November show the UK had only accepted 20 unaccompanied child refugees in two years through the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS).
Separately under the Dubs scheme, the UK government controversially set the limit to 480 children - down from the original 3,000.
The scheme was introduced by the Labour peer Alf Dubs and seeks to provide a legal route for unaccompanied child refugees from Europe to settle in the UK.
In contrast to the UK government’s failure to welcome its fair share of refugees and vulnerable children, the Scottish Government welcomed its 2,000th Syrian refugee at the end of 2017 – meeting its target of resettling refugees three years ahead of schedule through the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.
Brendan O’Hara MP's constituency of Argyll and Bute was one of the first Scottish local authorities to respond to the crisis as a result of the Syrian civil war. Since the end of 2015, the island has rehomed over 24 families.
The MP has said the UK government must adopt the recommendations raised by the UNHCR if the UK is to take the lead on the international stage in addressing the refugee crisis.
The recommendations include –
- Increasing the number of refugees resettled in the UK to at least 10,000 a year.
- Allowing more families divided by conflict to reunite and live together – including strengthening legal routes and financial support.
- Reducing the use of the government’s detention policy of asylum seekers and refugees.
Commenting, Brendan O’Hara MP said:
“The UK government has been consciously failing vulnerable children and refugees by failing to take its fair share through various resettlement schemes.
“The Scottish Government is willing to step up and take in more refugees, however the Tory government is instead adopting an increasingly hostile approach towards some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
“I’m proud that in my constituency of Argyll and Bute refugees have been welcomed openly and have settled into the local community.
“As we head into the New Year the UK government must redouble its efforts and adopt the recommendations raised by UNHCR and commit to taking 10,000 people per year after 2020, strengthen legal routes and increase financial support, and end the shameful policy of indefinite detention.
“More than two years ago the UK government passed the Dubs Amendment, and despite capping the number, it pledged to give safe passage to 480 unaccompanied refugee children. Today, little over half of those places have been filled. That is utterly shameful.
“We have a moral obligation to not turn our backs on vulnerable refugees and children who look to us for help. The UK government can no longer intentionally turn a blind eye to the crisis. It’s time to scrap the cap.”