Scottish Catholic and Church of Scotland leaders have united to issue a statement about the UK Government’s decision to end the Dubs Scheme for asylum-seeking children.
Rev Dr Richard Frazer (convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland) and Honor Hania (chair of Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland) urged the UK government to continue accepting child refugees.
“We were shocked and disappointed to learn that the UK Government intends to terminate the implementation of Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 – the ‘Dubs amendment’ to resettle unaccompanied asylum seeking children from Europe. To have stopped this programme at fewer than 12% of the original commitment of 3,000 children is reprehensible.
“The UK Government statement said that it had consulted with local authorities about capacity; churches were not consulted by the Home Office. Church and community groups in the City of Glasgow have only recently begun a consultation process about how volunteers might assist in the programme of supporting child refugees.
“We are aware that many of these children have disappeared and their situation is complex. But it is hard to think of anyone more vulnerable. A decision to end the Dubs resettlement now is premature and lacks both compassion and ambition.”
The church leaders urged government ministers to reconsider and voiced their willingness “to work with the Home Office to find creative ways to deliver on the widespread expectation on the part of the general public to achieve the goal of 3,000 children as soon as possible”.
“As Christians we believe that there is a moral imperative to ‘love our neighbour’, where our neighbour is illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. Extraordinary times require extraordinary responses, and that when someone is in need they are our neighbour, regardless of race, nationality, religion, language or culture.”
David Bradwell is coordinator of Scottish Faith Action for Refugees. He highlighted the relationships between local churches and international aid and development organisations on the group in refugee camps, as well as links with congregations across Europe.
“Many church members have volunteered or visited refugee camps, and people have been deeply moved both by the humanity of those who live there, and the vulnerability of unaccompanied children and young people who find shelter within those communities …
“The UK used to be known as being a place of sanctuary; this reputation is in jeopardy. We are failing in our moral and humanitarian obligations to help those in desperate need.”
You can read more about the Scottish church reaction to the closure of the Dubs Scheme and their ongoing work with refugees on the Scottish Faith Action for Refugees website.