09 February 2017, The Tablet

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Government decision to scrap child refugee scheme

We must resist 'worrying trend' towards seeing refugees as threat to security, says Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the Government’s decision to backtrack on its child refugee scheme. Justin Welby said that he was shocked and saddened by the Home Office announcement on 8 February that said just 350 refugee children will be brought to the UK under the Dubs Amendment, far fewer than the 3,000 originally expected.

"Our country has a great history of welcoming those in need, particularly the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children,” said Welby in a statement released by Lambeth Palace on 9 February.

"Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings made in the image of God who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish,” he added.

Describing the Government’s decision to end the scheme as “regrettable”, Welby said the "worrying trend" towards seeing refugees as a security threat must be resisted.

"We must resist and turn back the worrying trends we are seeing around the world, towards seeing the movement of desperate people as more of a threat to identity and security than an opportunity to do our duty,” he said in the strongly worded statement.

“We cannot withdraw from our long and proud history of helping the most vulnerable,” he added.

The Archbishop also said that he hoped that the Government would reconsider their decision.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd defended the decision to end the scheme, which she said had been made after France raised concerns it could be encouraging more children to make the perilous journey to Europe.

The decision has provoked a backlash from MPs, with Labour Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton, Pat McFadden, likening it to President Trump’s controversial travel ban in America. 

"I want to ask [Ms Rudd] what signal she thinks this sends to the world in the wake of the announcement last week from President Trump, in a different context,” said McFadden, during Prime Minister’s Questions on 8 February.

"There are always those who will say look after our own, charity begins at home, Britain first, America first, France first, and so on.

"Does she really want us to be aligned with that sentiment, or a different one?" he added.


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