You may know that five organisations – the Refugee Council, Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Oxfam UK, and UNHCR UK – are campaigning for the immigration rules to be changed to make it easier for refugee families to reunite. Help Refugees is proud to support their campaign.
We can only imagine what people have fled – but we can help refugees rebuild their future and bring their families back together. Unfortunately, restrictive government rules are leaving them isolated, traumatised and alone in the UK, knowing that the people they love still face untold dangers in other countries.
The only family members explicitly allowed to join adult refugees in the UK are their spouse or partner, and their dependent children who are under the age of 18.
Unaccompanied children who are granted refugee status in the UK have no right to reunite with even their closest family members – and out of all the countries in Europe, the UK and Denmark are the only ones to deny them this right. It should be noted that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has now urged the UK to “review its asylum policy in order to facilitate family reunion for unaccompanied and separated refugee children.”
We endorse the five organisations’ asks:
- Child refugees in the UK having the right to sponsor their family so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community;
- An expansion of who qualifies as family, so that young people who have turned 18, and elderly parents, can be reunited and live in safety with their families in the UK;
- The reintroduction of legal aid, so that refugees have the support they need to afford and navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.
The five organisations listed above have worked with Angus MacNeil MP to introduce a Bill on refugee family reunion, which was first debated earlier this month. If the Bill is to succeed, more than 100 MPs need to attend the debate and support the Bill at its second reading on Friday 16th March 2018.
The diaries of MPs are already filling up quickly – and what’s more, since the second reading takes place on a Friday, many MPs will be back in their constituencies. It seems like a long way away (particularly with the holidays and New Year in the middle!), but your support is needed now. Please could you contact your MP, and ask them to save the date: to be present in Parliament on 16th March and to support the Family Reunion Bill.
You can do this in just a few moments, using the Refugee Council website – after typing in your postcode, you will see who your local MP is, and you will also have a draft of the letter ready to send.
It will take less than 5 minutes to send, but could make a huge change in the lives of refugees who wish to reunite with their loved ones.
Make sure your MP knows that you want them to attend. Voting in support of this bill, on the 16th March, is a simple action that MPs can take – and will transform the lives of those who have been torn apart from the people they love. It is the right thing to do, and a practical way to help people rebuild their lives so they can have safe, happy futures together.
This photo was taken by Rob Pinney, at the Refugees Welcome march.