Talks about housing child refugees 'have been abandoned'

Child at refugee camp Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The issue is set to return to the Commons next week

Talks to resettle more unaccompanied refugee children in Wales have been abandoned by the UK government, a council leader has said.

Torfaen leader Anthony Hunt said he and his counterparts would work with the Home Office "if the funding was there".

It comes after the Home Secretary closed the so-called Dubs amendment once 350 unaccompanied children from Europe arrive in the UK.

The Home Office said it was "not giving up on vulnerable children".

The legislation, named after Lord Dubs, who arrived in the UK as a child refugee, states the government has to allow a number of unaccompanied children from Europe to be resettled here.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said it was not aware of the UK Government's plan to close the scheme and conversations were continuing about additional capacity.

It only applies to children on their own who have made it to Europe who have no links to the UK - other systems exist for resettling children direct from other war-torn countries.

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Media captionTorfaen council leader Anthony Hunt said he was disappointed by the decision

Some councils told BBC Wales they had not taken any unaccompanied children so far and had no capacity to do so.

Mr Hunt said: "We've been working together with the other Gwent authorities on that, so there's a figure that I think Gwent has been willing to take in as a whole, but we've not reached a definite of what the capacity is.

"If the funding and support is there and given that the numbers are very small, I believe that we can do our bit and we can work constructively with the Home Office to achieve that.

"This is why this is disappointing that the we find out this news, that the government appear to have given up on the situation."

The WLGA said it was "working closely with Welsh Government in discussing how we could further develop our approach in Wales to supporting vulnerable children arriving and their integration into local communities".

A Home Office spokesman added: "We have a proud history of offering protection to those who need it and children will continue to arrive in the UK from around the world through our other resettlement schemes and asylum system.

"We're also clear that behind these numbers are children. It's vital that we get the balance right between enabling eligible children to come to the UK as quickly as possible and ensuring local authorities have capacity to host them and provide them with the support they will need."

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