• February 27, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
  • No comments
Dear Hussein, 

Thank you for your email as part of the reunification of refugee families and the associated campaign. Here are my thoughts on this important issue. 

The UN has estimated that there are over 20 million refugees worldwide, and in recent years over 20,000 people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing.

Our country has a proud history of helping those fleeing conflict and persecution and as we face the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War it is, of course, right that we continue to play our part. 

I have long believed the Government should be helping refugees who have stayed in camps in the region as well as those who have made dangerous journeys to Europe. I particularly agree on the importance of meeting our obligations under the Dublin regulation to reunite refugees with family in the UK.

With continuing reports of overcrowded camps and allegations of mistreatment, I would like to hear more from the Government on its progress with processing claims under the Dublin regulation from people who have made it to countries such as Greece and Italy. 

I also believe we could do more to help unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. I am very disappointed that the Government announced earlier this year that the Dubs scheme will end after resettling only 350 unaccompanied children. 350 children is far short of what was expected - when Parliament debated and accepted the Dubs amendment last year the frequently mentioned number was 3,000.

We know that unaccompanied child migrants are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. I am therefore strongly of the view that the Government should recommit to meeting the obligations of the Dubs amendment, restore this scheme, and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world. 

As this crisis continues the Government must fulfil not only its legal but its moral obligations, and I can assure you that I will continue to follow this matter very carefully and press the Government on the UK’s response. 

The Shadow Home Office team made a number of attempts to amend the Government’s Immigration Bill in 2016 with regard to family reunification for refugees.

I supported an amendment in the House of Commons which would have required a review of the refugee family reunion rules, including options for extending the criteria for family reunion. My Opposition colleagues in the House of Lords also supported an amendment which sought to provide an immediate route to reunite families caught up in the current crisis in a managed and controlled way. 

However, the Government defeated both of these amendments and has stated that it has no plans to extend the family reunion criteria. More recently, the new Prime Minister removed the ministerial post for Syrian refugees.

An issue of this magnitude should have a dedicated Minister and I believe this post should be reinstated without delay. I fear that the Prime Minister’s decision on this demonstrates a lack of commitment to adequately tackle this crisis. 

Subject to other parliamentary commitments and meetings, I will endeavour to attend the Second Reading of the Refugee (Family Reunion) Bill on 16th March 2018. 

Thank you once again for writing to me. 

Yours sincerely, 

Jeff Smith MP 

Jeff Smith is the UK Member of Parliament for Withington in the city of Manchester. Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). 


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