I asked the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid whether he will change the rules to help unaccompanied refugee children who have come to the UK reunite with their parents.
I have championed the cause of unaccompanied children who have had to flee their homes due to war and violence and become separated from their parents, because of the cases that I have taken up for such children in Cardiff Central.
Unlike almost every other country in Europe, a child granted refugee status in the UK is not allowed to apply for their parent or parents to join them here.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked the UK Government to review its policy on family reunion and the Refugee Council has said the Government’s current policy is causing vulnerable children unnecessary distress.
As usual the government were without any answers, with the Home Secretary merely saying it’s something that he ‘wants’ to look at. Meanwhile children are separated from their families.
You can see a video of my full question and the Secretary’s response below:
Jo Stevens MP:
Thank you Mr Speaker. Whilst adults can sponsor their relatives, under the UK rules, separated children have no family reunion rights. Not even to bring their parents to the UK. Every other country in the EU allows children to sponsor at least their closest relatives. When will the UK do the same?
Sajid Javid MP, Home Secretary:
Mr Speaker, I understand the concerns of the Honourable Lady. She’s right to raise this. This is a very important area and I said a moment ago, we do want to also look at the Private Members’ Bills and see what more we can do. She raises a specific issue of children. There is a particular concern that if you allow children to sponsor adults, including their parents or others, that it might cause harm in the sense that people might be incentivised to push children forward and put them through danger. So we do need to look at things like that carefully. I hope she understands.