At Sanctuary in Parliament III, we heard from Steve Symonds from Amnesty International about the lack of family reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children in the UK. Whereas adult refugees can sponsor their spouses and dependent children to join them, refugee children cannot even be reunited with their parents in safety in the UK. Refugee family reunion rights for unaccompanied children was one of the key asks for us as SiP III.
On Monday 19 December, MPs will have the chance to raise this issue in parliament when ministers from the Department for Education answer questions in the House of Commons. MPs can table questions in advance. Next year, the Department for Education will publish a strategy for the safeguarding of unaccompanied children and these questions offer an opportunity for MPs to call on the Government to use that strategy to give children family reunion rights.
For those of you who met your MP or heard from your MP as part of Sanctuary in Parliament, this is your chance to follow-up with them to ask them to take action on this important issue.
You may wish to send the following to your MP:
As part of Sanctuary in Parliament III, we heard about the need for unaccompanied child refugees in the UK to be able to be reunited with their parents. Currently, the UK is one of only two countries in Europe that doesn’t allow child refugees to sponsor their parents to join them. Not only does this leave these children without the support of their parents, but it means that they must be looked after in the care system.
There is a chance for the Government to address what the Home Affairs Select Committee has called a “perverse” situation. Last month, the Department for Education announced they would publish a safeguarding strategy for unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children by May 2017. As part of this strategy, refugee children should be able to sponsor their very closest relatives to come and join them in the UK.
On Monday 19 December, ministers from the Department for Education will answer questions in the House of Commons. Please consider tabling a question to call on the Government to make sure they do not let this opportunity pass them by.
Some suggested text for a question is:
- “What plans the Government has to grant unaccompanied refugee children family reunion rights as part of the strategy on the safeguarding and welfare of unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children”
The deadline for tabling questions is 12.30pm on Tuesday 13 December. W hope you will take this chance to ask for something that would make a huge difference to refugee children in the UK.
Photo credit Ambrose Musiyiwa, CivicLeicester (Steve Symonds on the right)