The Government has turned its back on vulnerable children
On Holocaust Memorial Day those of us who gathered at the Town Hall to commemorate the occasion, including her worshipful the Mayor of Ealing Patricia Walker, were enthralled by the amazing story of Michael Brown from the Castlebar area. To the outside world he is a doting grandad and friendly neighbour but he came to the UK fleeing terror in Nazi Germany aged just nine years old.
Indeed Michael was known as Franz Schlesinger when he stepped onto a “Kinder” train from Germany in 1939, expecting that his parents would follow in due course. He never saw them again after they perished at the hands of Hitler during the extermination of Jews across Europe. It is now 8 decades since this dark time and Michael has since built a new life for himself and his family in Ealing.
I was able to raise his past in Parliament last week when I also asked about the plight of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. I told Parliament how Michael movingly described his experiences as a child refugee fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and also advocated the need for Britain to be open to children from Europe fleeing atrocities today.
The debates around 1930s Kindertransport have contemporary relevance in relation to the current day Dubs Scheme, which seeks to rescue some of the world’s most vulnerable children from Europe and the perils of warfare.
Ealing Council has already successfully provided homes for 13 children under the scheme, and is willing to take more to “do their bit” to alleviate the suffering of refugees. There are at least 368 more spaces available for unaccompanied minors across the UK yet the current government is shirking its commitment to helping children in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Earlier this year it was announced that after accepting just 200 Dubs children, the UK will take only 150 more children under the scheme for unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. Constituents have written to me in horror at this decision.
I asked “why are the Government pulling the plug on the world’s most vulnerable by closing the Dubs scheme?” The minister before me replied that the government is not for budging.
The backlash against this shameful decision is clear in the communications I’ve had imploring me to speak out. The fight however continues.
Michael’s gripping and emotional story is told in the book he has authored Moving On: My Journey Through Life, The Memoirs of Michael Brown.