Peers have voted for Lord Alf Dub’s cross-party amendment to the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 to protect child refugee family reunion. Please sign Jacob Rety’s petition and ask Felicity Buchan M.P. to vote to uphold these protections for separated child refugees tomorrow. http://chng.it/2fkwgGFr95
The bill will be coming up in the House of Commons tomorrow. The Government insists their position has not changed. But by taking the step of removing legal protections to ensure that family reunion to the same standard as under current EU law continues, the Government risks sending a dangerous signal that could panic child refugees and their families. We know that when safe and legal routes are not accessible, then children are more likely to make dangerous journeys and be pushed into the hands of people smugglers. There are currently thousands of refugee children – some as young as 8 – surviving in camps, shelters and on the streets of Europe. Many of these children are unaccompanied and with the absence of any legal route to safety, face the very real risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labour.
The Government has also suggested it is making this move to increase flexibility in the Brexit negotiations – but the principle of safe routes for child refugees with family in the UK should be non-negotiable. Without this legal protection, there is no guarantee that child refugees will be able to reunite siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents rather than just parents.
We hope Felicity Buchan MP will take a robust moral stand in support of Family Reunion Scheme like her predecessor Emma Dent Coad for defenceless child refugees in the Brexit legislation. The government must act in utmost good faith when it comes to the welfare of these acutely vulnerable children and not ignore the gravity of the subject by revoking family reunification during Brexit negotiations.
It dishearteningly appears that a degree of “refugee fatigue” has set in against the backdrop of the Brexit debacle. We strongly believe that assisting these young, vulnerable lives, by uniting them with their families and protecting them from unspeakable dangers, where 90% of the children who are here have come to the UK through dangerous routes, rather than safely and legally as in family reunion. Helping these young lives is an effective way to make our humanity count and help build a better society.