Where would you be
without your family?


Restrictive rules are keeping refugee families apart. Join the campaign to bring #FamiliesTogether.

© UNHCR/Annia Sakkab

© UNHCR/Annia Sakkab

© UNHCR/Annia Sakkab

Imagine if you were forced to leave your family

War has destroyed everything you know. It's forced you and your family to flee your home. During a traumatic escape, you become separated from your children and your elderly parents. You don’t know what’s happened to them.

You reach safety in the UK and are allowed to stay here. But your family are still in danger. The law means they can’t join you. You worry about them constantly – the uncertainty and stress mean you’re unable to rebuild your life.

This is the reality for many families torn apart by war and persecution. Restrictive rules keep refugees who reach the UK separated from their loved ones. People who have fled horrific experiences can be left alone and distraught, knowing that those they love still face untold dangers.

Under the current rules, refugee children can’t sponsor even their closest family to live with them in the UK; and elderly parents and children who are 18 or over can’t join their families here.
This has devastating consequences for so many people – like Muhammed and Amal.

©UNHCR/Cengiz Yar

©UNHCR/Cengiz Yar

©UNHCR/Cengiz Yar

Muhammed and Amal's story

Muhammed and Amal are from Syria. They fled to Libya with their four children shortly after the conflict began. Life in Libya became increasingly dangerous while they were there and after two years Muhammed decided to make the journey to Europe.

Muhammed was granted refugee status in the UK. Aware that his son, Kusai, was due to turn 18 very soon, making him ineligible for family reunion, Muhammed immediately began the process of applying to bring his family to the UK. That application was rejected. Muhammed knew that his 20-year-old daughter, Athar, might not be accepted but also knew that, under family reunion law, he had the right to bring his wife and any children under the age of 18 to the UK. It turned out that the reason for the rejection was Kusai’s passport expiring while the family was in Libya. While awaiting that decision Kusai turned 18 and became ineligible for family reunion.

Muhammed appealed, and a judge ruled that while Muhammed’s wife and two youngest children were eligible for family reunion and could come to the UK, Kusai and Athar were rejected on the basis of being over 18 years old. While Athar has remained in the region, Kusai decided to take matters into his own hands and took the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to a makeshift camp in unthinkable conditions in Calais*.

*Case study accurate as of May 2016

You can read a report by Oxfam and Refugee Council on the impact of family separation on refugees in the UK and other families' stories.

The Families Together coalition

Families Together is a coalition of organisations working together to support the campaign to achieve an expansion of the UK’s refugee family reunion rules, so that families are no longer kept apart. The coalition includes a variety of organisations, some that provide frontline services for refugees. Their support for an expansion of refugee family reunion is based on their first-hand experiences of the current rules.

There is still a lot more to do, and the more of us there are working to get refugee families together safely in the UK, the better.

Would you like to join the coalition?

To find out more about the campaign and/or to join the coalition, please email parliament@amnesty.org.uk

Bringing families together

Right now, we have the chance to help families like Muhamed and Amal's.

The FamiliesTogether campaign is calling for:

1.      Child refugees in the UK to have the right to sponsor their close family so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community

2.      The definition of who qualifies as family to be expanded so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents can live in safety with their families in the UK

3.      The reintroduction of legal aid so refugees who have lost everything have the support they need to afford and navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families

How you can help

Thanks to thousands of people across the country who have already taken action - from writing to their MPs to signing our petition. This enormous effort encouraged 131 MPs to vote in favour of Angus MacNeil’s Private Members Bill on Refugee Family Reunion on 16 March 2018.

There is now an Immigration Bill in Parliament which establishes the legal framework for the UK’s immigration system, once the UK leaves the European Union. The Families Together Coalition believes that the bill is a good opportunity to expand the current refugee family reunion rules and allow more families to be safely reunited in the UK. If you are an MP, please raise the issue of refugee family reunion during the passage of the bill and if the opportunity arises, please propose or support any relevant amendments.

Amnesty International UK and Refugee Council have a live online petition to the Home Secretary calling on her to expand the rules around refugee family reunion. Please sign up by visiting their websites.

If you would like to find out more about the Family Reunion campaign, or you work with refugees or people seeking asylum, and are interested in joining the Families Together Coalition, please get in touch here: parliament@amnesty.org.uk

©Aubrey Wade/Oxfam

©Aubrey Wade/Oxfam

Contact us

There is still a lot more to do, and the more of us there are working to get refugee families together safely in the UK, the better.

Would you like to join the coalition?
To find out more about the campaign and/or to join the coalition, please email parliament@amnesty.org.uk

Life on Hold 2018, Moria, Lesvos, Lesbos, greece, refugees, islands, refugee camp, Lives on Hold, Open The Islands

Life on Hold 2018, Moria, Lesvos, Lesbos, greece, refugees, islands, refugee camp, Lives on Hold, Open The Islands

Life on Hold 2018, Moria, Lesvos, Lesbos, greece, refugees, islands, refugee camp, Lives on Hold, Open The Islands