A court judgment handed down today could pave the way for asylum seekers fleeing to Europe to be able to finally realise their right to join their relatives in Britain.
Last week, judges ordered that three children and one adult who had been languishing in Calais were to be immediately allowed to travel to Britain to join their loved ones while their asylum claims were examined.
The four young Syrians arrived to emotional scenes in London last Thursday where they were able to be reunited with their families.
Today, in their full judgment, Judge Mark Ockelton and Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey called the Calais ‘jungle’ a ‘bleak and desolate place’ which was causing extreme mental distress to the youngsters at the heart of the case.
Like these young Syrians, many people in Calais are desperately trying to get to Britain in order to reunite with family members. However, bureaucratic failings mean that despite there being provision in EU regulations to happen safely and legally, in practice this is rarely possible.
Today the court noted that in practice people can be left suffering in the Calais ‘jungle’ for up to a year while they wait for the British Government to take responsibility for processing their claim.
The judges noted the Syrians’ ‘special circumstances’ which meant that such a long wait in the ‘jungle’ would have clear medical impacts on them. The court also ruled that leaving the Syrians in France would violate their right to family life.
The ruling could pave the way for other asylum seekers across Europe with relatives in Britain to finally be able to realise their right to join them. However, the Home Office has been granted permission to appeal.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “This landmark ruling shows that the European regulations designed to protect and reunite refugees with their families have been failing them.
“Instead of wasting public money fighting this judgment in the courts, the Government should be investing all of its energies in making sure that the system works effectively to safely and quickly reunite refugees with their loved ones.
“Everyone has the right to live in safety with their family. The Government should ensure that no one has to suffer in the same way these children have.”