Tower Hamlets Council is marking the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport initiative by pledging to welcome an additional 10 unaccompanied refugee children into the borough and calling on Government to release the necessary funding.
The Kindertransport was a remarkable British rescue effort that saved 10,000 predominately Jewish children from Nazi persecution in the nine months before the Second World War. Individuals, communities and councils stepped forward at a time of great crisis and in the face of significant opposition.
80 years on, Lord Alf Dubs – himself a Kindertransport refugee – is calling on the Government to honour that legacy by offering safety and security to children fleeing conflict and persecution now. The campaign asks for a commitment from the UK Government to resettle 10,000 unaccompanied and vulnerable child refugees from Europe and global conflict regions over the next 10 years. As part of this Lord Dubs asked councils to indicate their commitment to hosting a number of child refugees and calling on Government to provide the funding for these places.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We have a proud tradition of welcoming people to the East End who have escaped war and persecution, helping them to build a new home here.
“While we look back at the legacy of the Kindertransport and pay tribute to past achievements, we must also remember that in 2018, one in six children around the world are living in conflict zones and over half a million are in need of urgent resettlement. They need our support now just as the 10,000 children who were saved by the Kindertransport needed our support 80 years ago.
“I am delighted to give Tower Hamlets’ backing to the Our Turn campaign by committing to taking an additional 10 unaccompanied refugee children. We all have a moral obligation to help those most in need.”
Tower Hamlets is already taking a leading role in welcoming refugees under the different transfer schemes in place.
The council is currently caring for 34 young people under the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children scheme and a further eight children under the Dublin 3 Agreement, a European Union (EU) law that determines responsibility for asylum seekers within the EU.
So far in 2018/19, the council has accepted a further 10 unaccompanied children and in 2017/18, it accepted 12. A number of Syrian families are also hosted through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People, said: “I welcome this commitment to take an additional 10 refugee children who are so desperately in need of our support. I hope that we will be able to continue to welcome more children in the future but the scale at which we are able to do so will be determined by the level of support provided by the Government.
“We are calling for more financial assistance to allow councils to provide essential support for resettled child refugees without the need to draw unsustainably on already stretched children’s services budgets. We all have a part to play.”