UK Govt Shuts Out Child Refugees as Scotland Trains Refugee Doctors

By Gabi Aguilar

Thousands of refugees fleeing across Europe ended up in Calais in northern France, in a refugee camp known as the Jungle. Many of these people had hoped to cross over to England from there to start a new life in the United Kingdom. While the Jungle was being used as a temporary home for these people, there was an increasing concern for their safety, but even more so for the safety of the children residing there.

Countries spread across Europe discussed possible solutions for these increasing concerns and, for the children, the United Kingdom passed the “Dubs” Amendment in May of 2016. The Dubs Amendment was named after Lord Alf Dubs who proposed a scheme that would enable a number of unaccompanied children to safely live in the UK. Dubs, a member of the House of Lords, was a child refugee himself-- fleeing Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. While the Dubs Amendment did not make any concrete promises on exactly how many refugee children would be resettled in the UK, Dubs and his supporters estimated helping around 3,000.

Since the passing of the Dubs Amendment in May of 2016, the Jungle has been destroyed, leaving thousands abandoned, and about 200 children have come to the United Kingdom. However, the government has recently announced that it will stop the scheme after another 150 are settled there. While the Dubs Amendment has helped these children, this is far fewer than anticipated, and many people have begun to criticize the government for not doing what it said it would. This announcement, which happened earlier this month, follows the news that the Scottish Government will increase training for refugee doctors in Scotland.

According to Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, The New Refugee Doctors Project “will reduce the de-skilling of medics who have sought refuge in Scotland, and will allow NHS  Scotland, [Scotland’s publicly funded healthcare system] to utilise the experience of refugee doctors with valuable and highly specialised skills” by allowing qualified doctors training, language support, and mentoring to help them meet the standards required for registration with the General Medical Council and to practice medicine in Scotland.

Scotland has repeatedly called for the UK to take in more refugees from the European continent and has a long history of welcoming refugees and ensuring that they have the best possible opportunities to create safe and stable homes for themselves. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon even branded the UK’s decision to shut out child refugees as “disgraceful.”

In a land whose National Animal is the unicorn, I think that we can all learn a lesson from Scotland on believing in a little magic and the goodness of helping others.


BBC Article on Calais “Jungle’ demolition:

BBC Article on the Dubs Amendment:

Scotsman Article on The New Refugee Doctors Project: