Everyday family life is full of wonderful moments. But some families are being forced apart.
Home Office rules separating child refugees from their parents aren’t just restrictive - they’re deeply unfair. But the Home Secretary has the opportunity to change this.
Isolated and alone
For many thousands of refugees in the UK, safety from conflict has come at a heavy price. The UK government’s strict and unfair rules have forced apart mums and dads from their children, sisters from brothers, and elderly parents left behind to fend for themselves.
They may have reached safety but instead of feeling relief, the agony and guilt of separation from loved ones bares down on them. Inevitably, people are left feeling isolated, traumatised and alone as they grapple with a new language and try to find their feet in a foreign country - with minimal support.
Forced to choose
One couple were told by a UK judge they could receive protection in the UK, but they would have to leave behind two of their four children in war torn Libya, because they were over 18.
Another couple from Homs, Syria now living in Abergavenny, are desperate to be reunited with their daughter, who is now living on the streets in Lebanon with her then five-year-old son.
One 15-year-old, who escaped to the UK after being recruited by the Syrian army worked in McDonalds to raise the $3000 it would cost for his mother to make the dangerous journey to join him; as he had no legal alternative due to his age.
Current UK rules governing the rights of refugees are restrictive and unfair. They deny child refugees the right to bring their parents to the UK; they mean that parents have to leave behind their children even if they have only just turned 18; and they mean that elderly parents are left behind in war torn countries to fend for themselves.
75,000 call for change
Thank you to the 75,000 of you who signed our petition to the Home Secretary. In February 2020, we were joined by school children from Oaklands Secondary School in east London, young refugees from the VOICES Network and Angus MacNeil MP to take our message that families belong together to the Home Office, literally.
Earlier today we handed in our 75K strong #FamiliesTogether petition to @patel4witham. A huge thank you to everyone who signed, shared, watched and helped get the word out there that children need their parents. We couldn't of done it without you🌈💙👶 pic.twitter.com/6gV3031WIR
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) February 5, 2020
MPs support family reunion
In 2018, MPs packed out Westminster to support a Bill introduced by Angus MacNeil MP proposing the necessary changes to bring more refugee families together. Thanks to many thousands of people like you writing to your MPs, the Bill passed with an overwhelming majority with 131 MPs voting in favour from all sides of the political spectrum.
What we're calling for
With your help we're calling for the following changes to the current rules:
- Allow child refugees in the UK the right to sponsor their close family, so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community
- Expand who qualifies as family, so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents can join their family in the UK
- Reintroduce legal aid for refugee family reunion cases so people who have lost everything have the support they need to afford and navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.
We are proud to be part of the Families Together coalition, campaigning for change alongside more than 50 other organisations who want to bring #FamiliesTogether.