World Refugee Day: UK Government must allow children to be reunited with their families


On World Refugee Day, Plaid Cymru MP, Ben Lake has called for the Westminster Government to allow child refugees in the UK to be reunited with their families.

Mr Lake made the call in a debate in the House of Commons today.

The UK Government currently does not allow unaccompanied refugee children to act as sponsors to be reunited with even their closest family members. It is contrary to Article 10 of the EU Directive on Family Reunion. Plaid Cymru has consistently backed moves to allow refugee families to be reunited, including legislation proposed by SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Only the UK, Denmark and Ireland chose not to opt-in to the EU Directive and so are not bound by it. Ireland has, however, enshrined the right for unaccompanied child refugees to act as sponsors for the purposes of refugee family reunion in their own domestic law.

As of March 2019, there were 2,842 registered asylum seekers in Wales, according to Home Office statistics. Data from UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report shows the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict was around 70.8 million people in 2018. This is double the level of 20 years ago, and 2.3 million more than a year ago.

The UN-backed World Refugee Day initiative seeks to engage the public and policy makers on the issue of refugees and asylum. Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.

Ben Lake MP said:

“This is not a controversial issue – refugee children should be with their families. These are children that have been forced to flee their homes because of war, terror or horrors that we can not imagine. Surely, we can all agree, that this is simply wrong.

“On World Refugee Day, the UK Government has an opportunity to make a small but unbelievably significant change to the lives of vulnerable refugee children. Allow them to see their mums and dads, brothers and sisters again.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people in the world - it is nothing short of a moral obligation to protect these vulnerable boys and girls.

“Politics often creates refugees, but politicians can act to save these people too. As such, we must now act to do what our morality requires of us and our international standing allows us and help refugees created by conflicts across the world.”  

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