Family reunification: A vital right
A Syrian child refugee in one of many camps where we work.
It is my personal experiences that I draw on when thinking of the families who are separated today. Families who desperately want – and need – to be together.
Because of current UK asylum law, there are children much younger than I was who are here entirely on their own and cannot sponsor a family member to join them. Current UK rules on refugee family reunion are preventing families from being together – exactly when they need each other most. And this is something we desperately need to change.
Adult refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK are able to sponsor immediate family members to join them. However, the UK is still one of the only European countries to deprive child refugees of the right to sponsor their families to do the same.
Family members who are separated and not covered by the rules are therefore left with two harsh ‘choices’: either stay put in insecure and dangerous places or embark on expensive, unregulated and unsafe journeys.
No child should be forced to face this reality.
When you are forced to flee to a new country, you have to learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, and go through countless emotional difficulties. The last thing you want is to be alone. Inevitably you worry about your family, who’ll be facing their own struggles in other countries’ hostile environments. And of course, gradually this private toll becomes a public one, as psychological distress leads to more reliance on state support.
For so many who have fled war and persecution, the uncertainty of having fled your home therefore never ends. Without the security of family, it’s seemingly indefinite.
We welcome refugees: Joining the call
Islamic Relief USA’s visit to Germany during the refugee crisis.
We desperately need change. Child refugees deserve better.
And that’s why more than 60 high profile celebrities, actors, singers, comedians and artists, including Islamic Relief UK ambassador Asma Khan, have written to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on him to reunite refugee families.
They join the Families Together coalition, of which Islamic Relief is a member.
The Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament presents a real opportunity to swiftly and easily correct this injustice – and provide a safe and legal alternative route to those forced to make dangerous Channel crossings.
I welcome this call from celebrities and join them in urging the government to accept amendments to the Immigration Bill.
These vital changes will finally allow all child refugees separated from their families by war, violence and persecution to finally be given the chance to be with their families when they need them most.
We must not let the Covid-19 crisis close our borders and close our hearts. In the face of great adversity: we must do what is right and fair.
Families belong together.
Families Together Coalition
Islamic Relief is a member of the Families Together coalition, calling for refugee family reunion. Read the celebrity letter and add your name here. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/families-together