The Government have today rejected calls for lone child refugees in the UK to be able to be reunited with their parents.
The announcement came in response to a report by MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee. The Committee had recommended that child refugees in the UK should be able to bring their close family to join them in the same way that adult refugees can. The Committee described the lack of family reunion rights for child refugees as “perverse”, saying that children should have the “right to live safely with family”.
The UK is almost alone among EU countries in denying unaccompanied child refugees any family reunion rights. The UK’s current rules mean that children who have been recognised as refugees in the UK after arriving alone are condemned to live apart from their family.
The Refugee Council, along with Amnesty International UK, Oxfam GB, UNHCR UK and the British Red Cross, are supporting a Private Members’ Bill introduced in the House of Commons by Angus MacNeil MP. The bill would extend the current refugee family reunion rules, including by granted unaccompanied child refugees the right to be reunited with their closest family members.
The bill is due to be debated for the first time on 16 March 2018, and the Refugee Council is encouraging people to contact their MP and ask them to make sure they attend that debate.
Responding to the announcement, Jon Featonby, Parliamentary Manager at the Refugee Council, said:
“Everyday, we see the impact that being kept apart from loved ones has on refugees. It’s hugely disappointing that the Government continue to reject the growing calls for child refugees in the UK to be able to be reunited with their families.
“We agree with the Home Affairs Select Committee that this is a perverse situation. The Government have recognised these children as refugees, but then deny them the chance to have even their closest family with them.
“In the coming months, MPs have a vital opportunity to call on the Government to allow more refugee families to be reunited. It’s high time these wrongs were put right.”
MPs will debate the Refugee Family Reunion Bill on Friday 16 March 2018. Ask your MP to save the date today.