Today over 100 MPs from across the political spectrum voted in favour of changing the law to help families divided by conflict to be reunited here in Britain.
Following months of campaigning by the Refugee Council and the 20+ other organisations that form the #FamiliesTogether coalitionAngus MacNeil MP’s Refugee Family Reunion Bill received cross-party backing from 131 MPs, taking it one step closer to becoming law.
The proposed new law would enable refugees who have already sought safety in the UK to be joined here by their close relatives, including children who have turned 18 and elderly parents. It would reintroduce legal aid to help refugee families with their applications. Crucially it would give refugee children who arrive in the UK alone the right to sponsor their families to join them here, bringing the UK into line with most other European countries, if the Bill passes.
Currently, the UK Government’s restrictive and unfair rules prevent refugees in Britain from being reunited with anyone other than their partner or children under 18. The UK is one of only two countries in the EU that bans child refugees who arrive in the UK alone from bringing any relatives to join them, even their parents.
Reacting to this news, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: “Today offers a glimmer of hope to refugee families who have been torn apart by war and persecution. At the moment, the UK Government’s restrictive rules leave refugees isolated, traumatised and alone in the UK, knowing that the people they love still face untold dangers in other countries.
“It’s vital that MPs stand up for refugee families by supporting this proposed law which will enable families to live together, focus on the future and rebuild their lives together in safety.”
You can read a transcript of today’s debate.
You can also read more about the campaign and how you can get involved.