Refugee rights – 22 February 2018

A welcome call to end ‘heartbreak’ of refugee family reunion rules

Aid agency SOS Children’s Villages UK today welcomed comments by Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott on the need to change immigration rules that keep families apart.

The speech called for an end to the ‘heartbreak’ of the children of migrants being deported once they reach 18 even when their parents have gained the right to remain. Ms Abbott also said that child refugees who settle in the UK should have the right to have their parents join them.

CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK Alison Wallace said: “Any moves that bring refugee children closer to being reunited with family is welcome, and this development from Labour to take up the baton is a good start.

“Children and young people’s care and protection must be at the core of any UK immigration policies. At the very least we have a duty to do no harm, and to deny children and young people access to a loving family is a heartless response to a situation that in many cases will have already caused great trauma.

“Labour’s call for change couldn’t have come at a better time – with the Refugee Family Reunion Bill tabled for debate next month.”

SOS Children’s Villages UK is calling on MPs to back the Refugee Family Reunion Bill at its second reading in the House of Commons on March 16, 2018.

The Private Members’ Bill introduced by Angus MacNeil MP seeks to:

• expand the criteria of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of refugee family reunion;
• ensure unaccompanied refugee children in the UK have the right to sponsor their family members to join them;
• secure the reintroduction of legal aid for family refugee reunion cases. The bill has support from a cross-party group of MPs who have highlighted the need for the current restrictive refugee reunion rules to be overhauled.

SOS Children’s Villages UK is adding its voice to a significant group of UK NGOs, including Refugee Council, Amnesty International, Oxfam, UNHCR, British Red Cross and Student Action for Refugees, urging MPs to attend the March debate in Westminster to vote this bill into its next stage.

To find out more about the Refugee Family Reunion Bill below.

Refugee Reunion Bill