Actress Emma Thompson has weighed in on the current refugee debate circulating through Parliament, expressing her disappointment that so few child refugees are being allowed into the UK. And it’s an issue close to the actresses heart, as her 30-year-old adopted son Tindyebwa Agaba, is a former child refugee.
Emma’s letter comes after the government has maintained that they will be allowing just 350 young child refugees in to the UK.
The award-winning actress welcomed Tindyebwa, a refugee from Rwanda, into her home 14 years ago, and, in her open letter to the government, has spoken of the joys of having him in her life. She declared that he has brought “nothing but joy” into hers and her families lives, and has said that having child refugees in the UK would do the same.
She said, “Fourteen years ago I met one of these children at the Refugee Council. He was a traumatised 16-year old Rwandan refugee who had seen untold suffering as a child soldier and who only needed help and support from a loving group of people to flourish into the extraordinary, empathic and talented member of our family he is today.
“Our family have experienced nothing but joy and reaped the deepest possible rewards from witnessing the development and happiness of the refugee who became our brave and kind son. Those we choose to help often end up helping us in ways we cannot imagine.
(Emma’s husband, Greg Wise, her son Tindyebwa, and daughter Gaia Wise)
“I am certain there are many like him out there that we can help to become part of other family or community groups where they could grow into active and fulfilled citizens with much to offer.”
In her letter, Emma urged MPs to add an amendment to the Children’s Bill being put forward, to ask local authorities to identity their capacity to resettle unaccompanied refugee children, and report their findings annually.
She went on to reaffirm how desperate the situation is for most refugee children, saying “Children do not fling themselves into the dangerous unknown for anything but the most severe reasons of survival,”
“Since the eviction of the Calais camp, they are still trying to reach the UK, putting their lives in the hands of people smugglers, climbing into refrigerated lorries – because without safe and legal routes, they feel that this is their only option.
“They deserve our help and above all, our compassion. How can we turn our backs on them simply because of the largely unsubstantiated fear that others might come?”
The amendment will be put forward in Parliament on 7th March, by Conservative MP Heidi Allen.