Refugee rights – March 16 2018

SOS Children’s Villages UK welcomes step towards refugee family reunion

Aid agency SOS Children’s Villages UK today welcomed a vote in Parliament that takes the UK closer to reuniting refugee children with their parents.

The Refugee Family Reunion Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons this morning, and thanks to the support of 129 MPs, has successfully passed another hurdle towards becoming UK law.

As rules currently stand, adults who gain leave to remain in the UK are permitted to sponsor their children to join them, but children cannot do the same for a parent or sibling.  This has left hundreds of refugee children without parental care.

CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK Alison Wallace said: “This is a tremendous result and today’s debate shows the significant support for the belief that refugee children who have made their way to the UK, gaining leave to remain, should have the right to be reunited with their family. The protection and care of a loving family environment is a foundation stone of children finding their way to becoming successful and integrated members of society.

“We thank all those committed MPs who attended the second reading of the bill and urge them to continue their good work towards making this bill a reality.”

The Refugee Family Reunion Bill calls for:

  • expansion of the criteria of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of refugee family reunion;
  • unaccompanied refugee children in the UK to have the right to sponsor their family members to join them;
  • reintroduction of legal aid for family refugee reunion cases.

The bill will now enter a consultation process, during which MPs can table amendments that could fundamentally affect the rights of refugee children in the UK.  SOS Children’s Villages UK will be following this process closely to ensure that children are not denied their right to a family life.

SOS Children’s Villages UK has been campaigning in support of the bill, adding its voice to a significant group of UK NGOs, including Refugee Council, Amnesty International, Oxfam, UNHCR, British Red Cross and Student Action for Refugees.