“When I saw my family at the airport, it was like being transported to a fantasy world. I dropped my bag and threw my arms around them. To see them again was the best thing that has ever happened.” Aimee Ntabarusha Mungu, who escaped from the Congo.Divided families
During the refugee experience, the family unit is often separated. Family members may flee along different routes, or separation may be used as a strategy to protect a vulnerable member, for example, by sending them somewhere for safety.
Being reunited with family members is often a top priority once an asylum seeker has been granted status to remain in the UK. People granted refugee status or humanitarian protection have the right to be reunited under the UK Border Agency’s family reunion programme.
British Red Cross research on the family reunion of refugees in the UK
The British Red Cross is carrying out research to investigate whether the needs of refugees seeking to exercise their family reunion rights are being met by existing humanitarian support and provision. A key part of this research is to map current support services, and understand the multiple factors that help or hinder access to family reunion.
The British Red Cross plans to use the findings from our research to contribute to the development of their service delivery work with refugees, as well as to inform advocacy and policy debates on family reunion.
How you can help
So what are your thoughts on family reunion for refugees in the UK?
•What do you feel currently works well during the family reunion process to help refugees successfully reunite with their families?•What do you feel are the main challenges faced by refugees trying to reunite with their families?•What support do you think is required to help refugees overcome these challenges?
You can enter your thoughts on the blog below, though it would be useful for you to identify whether you are a refugee, an advisor, a solicitor etc.
If you have been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, or indefinite leave to remain in the UK, the British Red Cross would also like to telephone you for a short interview about family reunion. Your responses are voluntary, and will be kept private.
If you are interested in being interviewed, please contact Kimberley Rennick, research assistant at the British Red Cross. You can:
•email Kimberley, at KRennick@redcross.org.uk
•call Kimberley, on 020 7877 7197.
Please note that participation in this research will not affect the support you may currently receive from the British Red Cross, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, or other organisations. It will also not affect your family reunion application if you currently have one underway.