An agreement between Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron has sparked optimism among charities working to move child refugees to safer locations.
The prime minister and French president struck a deal that means children fleeing wars who arrived in Europe before last Friday may have their cases considered under the Dubs amendment, which could give youngsters travelling alone a legal route into the UK.
Before the agreement reached at last week’s summit in Sandhurst, child refugees had to have arrived in Europe prior to March last year in order to be accepted under the Dubs scheme, according to the Guardian.
President Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May have agreed to extend the eligibility deadline for child refugees
This meant many who fled conflict for a better life in France, Germany or Italy were ineligible for consideration.
Labour peer Lord Dubs secured a commitment that the government would help more child refugees in January last year.
Today he welcomed the agreement between May and Macron, saying: ‘We hope dozens more will be transferred, but it is crucial that they get a move on.
‘In France they are sleeping under the trees in very bleak conditions.’
Though the May-Macron deal focuses on France, there are 3,150 unaccompanied child refugees in Greece, where there are just 1,109 spaces in shelters according to the Safe Passage group.
The charity campaigns for more child refugees to be accepted to the UK and hopes this latest agreement could mean another 250 arriving in safer locations through the Dubs amendment.
The UK government has only transferred about 220 of the 480 refugee children it agreed to accommodate under the scheme.
But campaigners are optimistic the agreement reached at UK-France Summit at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst will reduce the number of child refugees dying in the roads surrounding Calais.
The number of asylum seekers who died while trying to climb onto lorries to come to the UK illegally spiked in recent weeks.
Recent weeks saw a spike in the number of refugees being killed while trying to climb onto lorries to gain illegal passage to the UK
Theresa May’s government also committed to tighten its deadline on considering applications from child refugees wishing to transfer to the UK.
The government pledges to answer applications within 10 days and to transfer people within 15 days after responding.
Safe Passage project lead George Gabriel said: ‘For those who are awaiting family reunion, these changes will mean that there is a much lower incentive to make a dangerous journey to reunite with a loved one.’
The news comes after this week’s court of appeal decision to grant Help Refugees permission to challenge the government’s cap on spaces available, which is set at 480.
The charity claims the number is too low and believes it does not represent the UK’s share of the estimated 90,000 unaccompanied child refugees across Europe.