Family reunification child refugees

Home is Where the Hurt is for Child Refugees in the UK

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Campaign groups are reaching out to the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in efforts to appeal for the rights of young refugees stating the current practice is “restrictive and unfair.”

The Refugee Council is an organisation that supports refugees in the UK through various mediums and has been at the forefront of campaigning for the rights of refugees for decades. Their latest awareness campaign seeks to highlight the long-term damage done to refugee children, their parents and siblings due to UK policies that deny families the chance to reunite and heal together with their loved ones.

Our shared humanity regardless of political opinion can agree that the idea of a young child alone in a foreign country with no parental or familial love and protection is heart-breaking.

Through film, Refugee Council challenges the Government to act to end this cruel policy. ‘Without my Mum’ is an animation by director Catherine Prowse that shows a young boy forced to leave his mother and home due to serious safety concerns in their home country. Fostered, he finds refuge in Britain but is devastated by the loss of his mother. Current family reunion laws mean that absolutely no relative is allowed to join the young refugee in the UK, even a parent.

Refugee Status does grant some rights, and it does allow for traumatised individuals to begin the long journey of healing and building a new life for themselves in their country of refuge but the consequences of family separation cannot be ignored. Refugee Council and Oxfam published a report just last year detailing the dangerous effects forced separation has on refugees, including health and economic implications that lead to mental health difficulties and poverty as they desperately try any way possible to reconnect with their families.

child refugees
The emotional campaign of a young refugee fleeing war by Refugee Council (PA/The Canary)

Refugee Council is appealing to members of the public to sign their latest petition to gain Patel’s attention on this urgent matter. Politicians across the political spectrum have expressed their support for changes to be made to ensure families can reconcile and heal together, with a vote in favour of a Private Members Bill introduced by Angus MacNeil MP in March 2018.

“Though physically safe as recognised refugees, their permanent separation from family is a constant agony.”

Maurice Wren, Chief Exec of Refugee Council

Without My Mum highlights a terrible reality for many child refugees in the UK. Funded by Families Together, a coalition of refugee and asylum seekers rights organisations, the aim is to raise awareness and pile pressure on Patel to change the current law.

Family reunification child refugees
Family reunification law under threat, warns Refugee Council (PA/The Canary).

We all have children in our lives, whether we are a parent or not, and our shared humanity regardless of political opinion can agree that the idea of a young child alone in a foreign country with no parental or familial love and protection is heart-breaking.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said on lone refugee children:

“Though physically safe as recognised refugees, their permanent separation from family is a constant agony. The Government already agrees that it should reunite families when the refugee is an adult; all we’re asking for is the same right to be extended to a small number of child refugees.”

Director of the film, Caroline Prowse, expressed her hopes that people would connect with the characters and see “refugees are not statistics, they’re individuals just like us, with the same hopes and fears and relationships that we have.”

Refugee rights are seemingly the first to go in the face of fresh legislation. And Refugee Council’s campaign emerges as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the UK’s new Brexit Bill yesterday which, again, sells child refugee rights down the river. Where once the government were obliged to secure family reunification laws for vulnerable children, the new Government has removed this clause from the withdrawal agreement. Although the Bill has its second reading today, without the clause being added, the UK could become an even more hostile place for lone refugee children.