The government will no longer be accepting disabled child refugees. In a stunning example of inhumanity, The Home Office has quietly asked the United Nations Commissioner on Refugees to stop referring those with special physical or educational needs for resettlement. The most vulnerable of the most vulnerable are now being ignored.
According to reporting from The Independent the government has suspended applications from disabled children since January. They have refused to accept disabled child refugees because they claim councils lack the resources to cope with them. As of yet there is no end date for this suspension. This echoes comments made by Claire Perry, Conservative MP, last night on Question Time.
This claim displays a startling “lack of political will” according to Human Rights Watch. “People with disabilities endure unimaginable hardship during conflict, and many faced huge hurdles in escaping the violence. That the UK now says it’s not prepared to accept refugees with disabilities is unthinkable.” Their statement also pointed out that such policy was blatantly discriminatory.
This bombshell follows days of debate around whether the government’s decision to close the Dubs Amendment, after accepting 350 child refugess instead of 3000, is morally acceptable. With many MPs from across the political spectrum believing the backsliding condemning the government’s actions. Meanwhile reports are emerging from the Balkans of increased police violence towards child refugees.
Shadow Home Secretary, Dianne Abbott, has joined the voices calling for both clarity and humanity. She described the revelations as “a new low for the government.” Heidi Allen, Conservative MP, has also “refused to let the situation lie” and appears to have joined Labour’s calls for compassion towards these vulnerable children.
For months now, Evolve and other sites have covered the disdain this government has displayed for disabled individuals. The routine humiliations of the “fit for work” fiasco have been the loudest cries. However, almost every policy, from universal credit to the bedroom tax, seems designed to hit disabled people the hardest. This latest incident , with its focus on disabled children fleeing war-zones, seems to reveal that there is no depth they will not plumb.
It is unarguable that these individuals represent some of the most vulnerable on the planet. As Human Rights Watch has pointed out, fleeing from your home when you have a mobility impairment is incredibly difficult. However these refugees compound these difficulties with childhood.
The usual cries that “they’re safe in France” cannot protect the government here. There is no question of, as the Home Secretary insists, providing an incentive for people to come to Europe as they are still in refugee camps.
This was a fundamental test of our humanity, that we show kindness to the most vulnerable.