Families Together: stars call on British Prime Minister to help reunite refugee families

Celebrities call to make safe and legal routes available so that fewer people will feel compelled to make dangerous Channel crossings

Over 70 high profile names have signed a letter to the UK Government calling for a change to the rules keeping refugee families apart.
© UNHCR/Mark Henley

70 high-profile celebrities, actors, singers, comedians, authors and artists have today written to the UK Prime Minister calling on him to enable a change in the law so that refugee families can be reunited.

Amongst those standing with refugees are Michaela Coel, Sir Patrick Stewart, Olivia Colman, Kate Moss, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren and Gary Lineker.

They are joined by Goodwill Ambassadors for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Neil Gaiman and David Morrissey. High profile supporters including actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alan Cumming, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Douglas Booth, Tanya Burr and presenter Anita Rani have also signed the letter urging Boris Johnson to bring refugee families together.

The open letter has been sent in support of the Families Together coalition’s campaign. The campaign aims to change the UK’s refugee family reunion rules which currently keep children in this country apart from their families.

Current UK rules allow adult refugees to sponsor their immediate family members to join them. Child refugees, however, are deprived of this right.

Merhawi Hagos an 18-year-old refugee from Eritrea was separated from his mother when he was 14 years old. After a difficult journey to the UK, he was granted refugee status two years ago. Yet he is still to be reunited with his family who are in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He says the camp is not secure and safe, and he constantly worries about their well-being.

“I found the experience of living without a family to be unbearable and a situation I would not wish upon anyone. I struggle to lead a normal life: cannot plan, cannot focus on my studies or work. I feel lonely, and depressed and do not sleep well.

“I’m imploring the UK Government to change the Family Reunion Rules so that young refugees like myself can be together with their families in the UK.”

The open letter has been sent in support of the Families Together coalition’s campaign, which aims to change the UK’s refugee family reunion rules which currently keep children in this country apart from their families.

“There are children in the UK right now who have fled war and persecution and have no hope of seeing their parents or siblings again. We should be offering them support and compassion. A simple change to the rules could be transformational.”

- Gary Lineker, former footballer and TV presenter

The household names join the Families Together coalition, in calling for a change to these rules, to make safe and legal routes available so that fewer people will feel compelled to make dangerous Channel crossings.

You can stand with refugees too: Sign the Families Together petition

 

Letter to the Prime Minister: You have the power to change lives

 

Dear Prime Minister,

Coronavirus has made us all acutely aware of how painful it is to be separated from our loved ones. But we know this separation is temporary. Sadly, this is not the case for everybody.

For some children in the UK, being kept apart from the parents they so desperately need is an everyday reality – pandemic or not.

These children are vulnerable. They have been recognised as refugees by our Government, having fled war or persecution - dangers and horrors most of us will never be able to imagine.

But the UK’s current refugee family reunion rules say that these vulnerable child refugees cannot be reunited with their family members.

After finally reaching safety, many must now grapple with a future of insecurity, knowing they might never see their family again. Tragically, at a time when children need their parents the most, our current rules mean that child refugees in this country will be left to live their lives alone.

Everyone should be given the chance to rebuild their lives so they can have a safe and happy future. That is why I am supporting the Families Together campaign in calling for a change to the UK’s refugee family reunion rules.

You have the power to change lives. With just the stroke of a pen you could fix the rules and help bring families back together.

Sincerely,

Adrian Lester

Adwoa Aboah

Alan Cumming

Alex Lawther

Anish Kapoor

Anita Asante

Anita Rani

Anoushka Shankar

Asma Khan

Axel Scheffler

Catherine Johnson

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chris Riddell

Chris Martin - Coldplay

Colin Firth

David Morrissey

Deborah Frances-White

Douglas Booth

Emma Freud

Emma Mackey

Emma Thompson

Gary Lineker

Gugu Mbatha Raw

Guy Berryman - Coldplay

Gwendoline Christie

Hassan Akkad

Helen Mirren

Jason Isaacs

Jaz O’Hara

Jessie Ware

JJ Bola

Joanna Lumley

Jonny Buckland - Coldplay

Jordan Stephens

Julia Donaldson

Juliet Stevenson

Kaiser Chiefs

Kate Moss

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Livia Firth

Lolita Chakrabarti

Maggie O’Farrell

Martin Bell

Maya Ghazal

Michaela Coel

Nazanin Boniadi

Neil Gaiman

Nish Kumar

Nitin Sawhney

Olivia Colman

Sir Patrick Stewart

Phil Harvey – Coldplay

Sir Philip Pullman

Ramla Ali

Rebecca Front

Richard Curtis

Riz Ahmed

Rufus Hound

Rufus Jones

Sita Brahmachari

Stephen Daldry

Stephen Fry

Susie Dent

Tanya Burr

Theo James

Tracey Seaward

Vanessa Redgrave

Vick Hope

Will Champion – Coldplay

William Sutcliffe