Liberal Democrat peer Sarah Ludford has tabled new legislation that would mean more refugee families, torn apart by war, conflict and persecution, are able to reunite safely in the UK.
Baroness Ludford introduced the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill in the House of Lords earlier today. Backed by the Families Together Coalition – a group of leading organisations that support refugees and people seeking asylum – it would expand the current family reunion rules so that child refugees can bring their parents and siblings to join them in the UK, as well as allowing refugees to be joined by their dependent children over 18.
Baroness Ludford commented: “We must do all we can to protect people forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution, and that includes reuniting them with their families.
“The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning its back on refugees and failing to live up to our obligations to them. It is simply wrong to keep child refugees separated from their parents.
“If Priti Patel is serious about combatting people smuggling and human trafficking, she should support my Bill. Providing safe and legal routes like this for refugees to come to the UK is the best way to tackle these criminal gangs and prevent people from making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel.
“The UK should welcome refugees and treat all seekers of sanctuary with dignity and compassion.”
On behalf of the Families Together Coalition, Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “Refugee Family Reunion is a vital way for families who have been torn apart to be safely reunited. Nine in ten of those who come to the UK through family reunion are women and children, allowing them to be with their loved ones again.
“Through our organisations’ work we see the pain and continued trauma being separated from family causes for people who have had to leave everything they knew behind.
“If the intention is to strengthen safe routes for those seeking protection in the UK and reduce irregular journeys, then expanding family reunion for all refugees is a step towards that. This Bill is an important part towards making the UK’s asylum system fairer, humane and more efficient by making it easier for all refugee families to reunite.”