THE issue of safe passage for child refugees will be debated by Wiltshire Council, as campaigners call on the authority to sign up to a decade-long scheme for people in crisis.

Councillors will be asked to support a scheme that would be funded by national government and sees 10 unaccompanied child refugees move to Wiltshire every year.

Following a commitment made in 2015 to support vulnerable people seeking refugee status, Wiltshire Council is being asked to join other authorities including Dorset and Bristol in the pledge.

Wiltshire Council was one of the first councils to sign up to help Syrian refugees through the Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme three years ago and now 103 Syrians live in the county.

Safe Passage supporters want the UK to adopt a similar rescue effort to that  which saw 10,000 children from countries such as Poland and Germany settle here during the Second World War.

Suse Soulsby of Wiltshire for Refugees will be at the full council meeting on February 26, where the motion will be discussed.

She said: “The current situation plays into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Nobody wants to be stuck in a boat on the Channel, it is a last resort.

“Eighty years ago the Kindertransport was supported by a group of religious leaders. It is good to follow in their footsteps and have the support of religious leaders who have recognised that there is a humanitarian problem and one that crosses religious boundaries.

“The pledge will not be Wiltshire committing money, but pledging support if government money is there to sustain the children’s and extra services needed.”

Other councils that have already supported the motion include Bristol, and Dorset. So far 850 places have been pledged by other councils towards the 10,000 target.

A joint motion by Lib Dem councillors Sarah Gibson and Jon Hubbard says:  “That Wiltshire Council builds on its achievements in caring for vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children by supporting the Safe Passage Our Turn campaign, recognising the historical legacy of the Kindertransport, and pledges to welcome 10 at-risk refugee children per year for the next 10 years as part of a fully funded government child resettlement scheme.”

Supporters include the Bishops of Salisbury, Ramsbury and Clifton, Wiltshire Islamic Cultural Centre, Quakers and Methodists.