Hope for refugee fam­i­lies

The Observer - - Comment & Analysis -

It is six months since MPs voted in favour of vi­tal changes needed to al­low more refugee fam­i­lies, torn apart by war and per­se­cu­tion, to be re­united in safety in the UK. The vote proved that the im­por­tance of fam­ily unity is some­thing that MPs and the Bri­tish pub­lic can agree on. Fam­i­lies be­long to­gether.

Now the UK gov­ern­ment has an­nounced a new “Calais leave” that of­fers hope to young peo­ple trans­ferred from France to the UK dur­ing the clo­sure of the Calais camp, al­low­ing those who didn’t qual­ify for refugee sta­tus to re­main in the UK with their fam­ily mem­bers and build lives here. This new form of leave marks a pos­i­tive step to­wards recog­nis­ing the im­por­tance of fam­ily unity, but there are many more vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who could ben­e­fit from sim­i­lar pol­icy changes. The Bri­tish Red Cross backs the call, for ex­am­ple, for refugee chil­dren in the UK to be able to spon­sor their par­ents to join them here.

This year, the Bri­tish Red Cross has sup­ported 679 fam­i­lies to re­unite and we know the dif­fer­ence it can make, both for the safety of the per­son ar­riv­ing in the UK and for the pos­i­tive im­pact on the whole fam­ily. We hope last week’s an­nounce­ment is an in­di­ca­tion of more pos­i­tive changes based on the prin­ci­ple of fam­ily unity, and on the pro­gres­sion of Angus MacNeil’s refugee fam­ily re­union bill in par­lia­ment. Jon Featonby, pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy man­ager for refugees and asy­lum at Bri­tish Red Cross Lon­don EC2

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