Refugee Family Reunification

by Maeve Halpin
Thursday, 30 August 2018 10:13 GMT

REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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Family reunification for unaccompanied refugee children is an important issue for Save the Children UK, nearly 90,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Europe in 2015. Their Conflict and Humanitarian team is determined to take real action to address the risks facing children who have already gone through unthinkable hardship, and ensure they are able to reach safety, reunite with their families, and begin to rebuild their lives.

Save the Children UK, along with other major NGOs working on Refugee Rights, collaborated closely to focus their policy and advocacy work on securing a change in UK law that would give unaccompanied children the right to be joined by their parents and siblings.  Realising they needed legal research to support their advocacy work, Save the Children UK contacted

 TrustLaw connected Save the Children UK with Latham & Watkins to conduct legal research on UK and EU law to support their programmes and advocacy campaigns. Latham and Watkins prepared individual country summaries on the relevant family reunification laws in each of the jurisdictions. Boin Cheong, Associate with Latham & Watkins said “One thing we quickly established is that if it is this difficult to understand for us lawyers, it must be extremely challenging for those migrants and asylum seekers applying for family reunification. It was shocking and we realized how real and important this research was.”

The report was completed in 2018 and has been used by Save the Children UK’s private advocacy, political work, and aided their partner organisations in their public campaigns and advocacy work.  

The issue of family reunification continues to be hotly debated across the UK and the EU. The EU Directive on Family Reunion “recognises the right of unaccompanied refugee children to sponsor their parent/s to join them in the relevant EU Member State. However, the UK has not yet opted into this Directive, and UK law and government policy does not recognise such a right. In 2017, British Member of Parliament Angus MacNeil introduced The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill, a private members’ bill that would allow more refugee families to be reunited in safety in the UK. The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill had its third reading on 3 July 2018.  

 Save the Children and Latham & Watkins have been nominated for the “Impact Award” at the 2018 TrustLaw Awards.


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