East Finchley child refugee campaigner urges government to protect family reunion
- Credit: Dinendra Haria
An East Finchley campaigner is calling on the government to maintain the legal right of child refugees to reunite with their families in the UK.
Maxine Klein, a Barnet supporter of child refugee charity Safe Passage, is urging Whitehall to protect the rights of refugees afflicted by poverty and war.
When the Brexit transition period closes on December 31, the right to family reunion under EU law is set to end.
A government immigration bill is currently being passed through Parliament which will determine whether this right will be preserved in UK law.
Maxine called the potential end to family reunion “horrific” and “really upsetting”.
The East Finchley campaigner said: “We want to ensure that children can get a safe and legal passage to this country through family reunions without risking their lives on dinghies or being exploited by smugglers or traffickers.
“Otherwise a lot of children stuck in Calais, who have relatives over here in the UK, won’t be able to come.”
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Maxine has befriended an Eritrean refugee who was recently awarded the right to remain in the UK after two years of legal wrangle.
She warned that if the right to family reunion was removed, the plight of child refugees would only worsen.
Rabbi Miriam Berger, from Finchley Reform Synagogue, said: “I find it hard to understand why some people’s first instinct is animosity towards refugees, these are desperate people, fleeing desperate situations and looking to us for help.
“Children are being washed up on beaches, this has to stop and the government can legislate to give these vulnerable children a safer hope than a dinghy.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have been very clear in our commitment to fixing the broken asylum system.
“It must provide safe-haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny and not allow organised criminals to elbow the most vulnerable to the side.
“We have a strong record on supporting vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. Through resettlement schemes, the UK resettles more refugees than any other country in Europe and are in the top five countries worldwide.
“Since September 2015, more than 25,000 vulnerable refugees have been resettled, with around half being children.”