Government reneges on commitment to bring vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children to the UK

Thursday 29 December 2016

Sonali Naik and Bryony Poynor of Garden Court Chambers represent child asylum seekers in legal action against the Government.

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Shortly before the Christmas break hundreds of unaccompanied children formerly resident in the Calais 'Jungle' before it was demolished by the French authorities, were refused entry to the UK, summarily and without reasons. The plight of children in the Calais camp had been the focus of cross-party Parliamentary attention in the run up to the 'Dubs' amendment in May this year requiring the UK to take its fair share of unaccompanied children.

The children have been waiting months for the government to formulate a policy and now the policy has failed to allow the relocation of many of the most vulnerable children to the UK, in respect of whom the Home Secretary had promised to be "flexible". In fact the way in which the criteria for accepting these children was drawn up by the Government meant that most of the children from the 'Jungle' were refused entry to the UK.

The timing of these decisions (made on 9 December 2016 but held back until 15 or 16 December 2016) has resulted in these children (some as young as 13) being without any legal remedy until well into the New Year. This is the earliest that Home Office officials have agreed to give reasons for refusing some of these children. Solicitors of the children were not informed of the decision to refuse entry. Instead children were told individually or in small groups that they were not coming to the UK, including at least one known as ZS who had previously attempted suicide in France.

To date only 200 children have come to the UK under the Dubs amendment and no more are expected from those previously residing in the Calais camp.  This does not even amount to one child for each of the 433 local authorities in the UK whom the government undertook to consult in determining the number allowed to enter.

28 of the children refused entry have launched legal action against the Government to seek written decisions and reasons for the determination that it was not in their 'best interests' to be relocated to the UK.

The 28 children including ZS are represented by Sonali Naik and Bryony Poynor of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law team, instructed by the Duncan Lewis Solicitors' Public Law team.

This case has been reported widely in the media including in the Guardian and on the BBC.

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