In January, following a legal case supported by Citizens UK, three Syrian children and a young adult with mental health problems were granted permission by the UK Courts to travel from the ‘Calais Jungle’ to the UK legally, to be with their UK-based families while their asylum claims were processed. This is the first time this had ever happened.
The judge ruled that their right to family life should be upheld, and the UK’s lack of a formal Dublin 3 procedure (under which no children in Calais had been reunited with their families) should not prevent the claimants from accessing that right.
The Home Office was ordered to reunite the claimants with their families immediately. They did so but also immediately appealed the Court’s decision. The appeal was heard on 27 and 28 June. A ruling was made on 2 August, and the appeal was upheld.
Spokesman for Citizens UK, the Bishop of Barking, Peter Hill, said:
“We are disappointed that the Home Office’s appeal has been upheld; relying on volunteers and lawyers to identify refugee children who may be eligible for family reunification, and then relying on those lawyers to process the claims child-by-child and case-by-case is inefficient, costly to the tax-payer, and hugely stressful for the children.
“Citizens UK is calling on the Home Office to establish a functional system for identifying refugee children with potential claims to family reunification in the UK. At the current rate of reunification it will take a year before all the children in Calais are reunited with their families, this is forcing children to take matters into their own hands; stowing away in lorries or vans. We know of two boys who have died in the last 12 months trying to reach their families in the UK. The Government has a legal and a moral responsibility to ensure that refugee children who have close family members in the UK are granted safe passage.”