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Monday, September 02, 2019

Now Tories abandon family values

For a party that once espoused traditional family values, the latest development in the Brexit saga feels rather counter-intuitive. As the Guardian reports, the Home Office is preparing to end the current system of family reunification for asylum-seeking children if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

They say that the government has privately briefed the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other NGOs that open cases may be able to progress, but a no-deal Brexit would mean no new applications after 1 November from asylum-seeking children to be reunited with relatives living in the UK. Even if there is a deal, the future of family reunion is not certain.

Lawyers and campaigners believe that the impact on migrant children stranded alone in countries such as Greece and Italy could be “fatal” as more head for the Channel to try to cross to the UK irregularly.

Efi Stathopoulou, the project coordinator at Refugee Legal Support in Athens, said the family reunification route was the only way she could persuade vulnerable young people to engage with the authorities.

“Children come here very afraid,” she said. “There have been cases where it was very obvious they were being exploited. Without the possibility of a safe way to reach the UK, these young people will simply vanish to try to cross the Channel at Calais on lorries or boats.”

Stathopoulou said Greek authorities asked her earlier this year to help speed up claims if a no-deal Brexit looked likely in order to get as many children as possible processed before the deadline.

Family reunification is vital because of widespread homelessness and exploitation faced by migrants in Greece. “We just helped a boy reach the UK who was street homeless in Athens despite already being being highly vulnerable,” said Stathopoulou. “He had lost his entire [immediate] family to a bomb in Afghanistan. Another boy was raped because he had nowhere safe to sleep.

If the Government proceed with this bar on children they will have taken the definition of uncaring Tories to new depths.
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