Defending the rights of refugee children

SOS Children’s Villages advocates at the national and international level to ensure the rights of refugee children worldwide are upheld. Through our connections with international institutions such as the UN and EU, and national and local governments around the world, we are campaigning for refugee children and their families fleeing violence, disaster and persecution to be treated with dignity and given the opportunity to seek sanctuary safely and legally.
We assert that every child, refugee or otherwise, deserves respect, and the upmost care for their physical and psychological health. Children should be treated as children, whatever their immigration status or that of their parents, and their best interests must always be placed above political or practical concerns. It is unacceptable for children to end up alone, destitute, on the streets, living in detention, in squalid camps or any other inhumane condition. They should not be imprisoned for a situation beyond their control, or separated from families who love and protect them.
SOS Children’s Villages is campaigning for:
  • Expansion of safe regular channels for refugees, including resettlement, to save lives and ensure refugees are not forced to rely on smugglers
  • An end to the immigration detention of children
  • Unsupported child refugees to be given proper care
  • Refugee family reunion

The Refugee Family Reunion Bill

SOS Children’s Villages UK is part of a coordinated coalition of NGOs campaigning for the Refugee Family Reunion Bills to become law in the UK. The bills would give refugee children with leave to remain in the UK the right to be safely reunited with their family.

Current restrictive laws are denying vulnerable refugee children the opportunity to grow up with their family. As a result, hundreds of children are facing a future alone and without the family stability they need. Refugee children are often fleeing danger, war and political unrest – and laws in the UK are only adding to this suffering.

Two versions of the bill are currently making their way through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Commons bill, proposed by Angus MacNeil MP, passed its second reading in March when 129 MPs voted in its favour, while the Lords bill is waiting for its third reading. But the success of the bills is by no means certain. We will be following this process closely to ensure children are not denied their right to a family life.

Both bills call for refugee children to be reunited with their families by:

  • Giving unaccompanied refugee children in the UK the right to sponsor their family members to join them
  • Expanding the definition of ‘family’ to allow more refugees to be reunited with their family
  • Reinstating legal aid for refugee family reunion cases

Click here to see the main stages and challenges that the commons bill still has to overcome. 

Help us change the law and reunite refugee children with their families

The UK is one of only two countries in the EU that bans child refugees from sponsoring their families to join them. This is forcing families apart and leaving vulnerable children – many of whom are alone and have been through war and bereavement –  to rebuild their lives without the love of their families.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid holds the power to change the law and give children the right to sponsor their parents to join them in the UK – sign our petition calling on him to act today.

Sign the petition