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Home Office wins appeal to refuse young Syrians

04 August 2016


Campaigner: Dr Kaneez Shaid, chair of Citizens UK, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, on Tuesday

Campaigner: Dr Kaneez Shaid, chair of Citizens UK, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, on Tuesday

THE Home Office has won an appeal against a ruling that allowed four Syrian refugees, who are currently living in a camp in Calais, to come to the UK.

In January, immigration judges ruled that four Syrians — three teenagers and the mentally ill 26-year-old brother of one of the three — living in the camp known as “the Jungle” should be brought to the UK immediately, in order to join their relatives, while their asylum cases are examined (News, 19 January).

The case rested on a clause in the Dublin III Regulations, under which minors who have a nuclear-family member in a particular EU country can claim asylum there, provided that they have already been processed by the first country they arrive in. None of the four Syrians has been able to make effective asylum claims in France, but they all have adult brothers who are legally settled in the UK as recognised refugees, the BBC reports.

The three Court of Appeal judges ruled this week that bypassing Dublin III “can only be justified in an especially compelling case”. The four will not face deportation.

George Gabriel, a campaigner with Citizens UK, which helped to bring the case on behalf of the Syrians, told The Guardian that it had been “an enormous kick up the arse for the Government”, and that the system was “now working better because 50 children have been brought to Britain since the case.

“But it means that charities like ours will have to continue identifying children one by one, taking them through a lengthy bureaucratic process, as they have to wait to be reunited with their loved ones. . . We fear this means many will take the situation into their own hands, choosing between people-traffickers on the one hand, and train tracks on the other.”

The Bishop of Barking, the Rt Revd Peter Hill — a spokesman for Citizens UK — welcomed the decision. He told the BBC: "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.”

A Home Affairs Committee report on the refugee crisis, which was published on Wednesday, said that the Government should immediately accept the 157 unaccompanied children in Calais who have family members in the UK. It describes conditions in the camps in Calais as “absolutely atrocious”, and says that it has yet to see any evidence of a long-term solution to them.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, told the committee that the 157 children “should already have arrived”. He described how the charity Home for Good had found 10,000 volunteers willing to foster them.

While acknowledging that the volunteers would have to be vetted, and that not all of them would be accepted, he argued that “an extraordinary number” had stepped forward and that “they will be in a position to offer that kind of support to all kinds of people from all kinds of nations over the coming years”.

Since the announcement in May that the UK would take unaccompanied child refugees from camps in Europe (News, 6 May), only 20 children have been received. The committee’s report concludes that there is “scant evidence” that the Government was on track to meet its commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020.

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