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A BILL to reunite torn-apart refugee families in Britain passed its first Commons test today.
The “Good Samaritan Bill” brought by SNP MP Angus MacNeil aims to allow child refugees to sponsor their close family members to join them.
With backing from 129 MPs the Refugees (Family Reunion) (No 2) Bill was given an unopposed second reading.
It followed a successful attempt to secure enough support to avoid the blocking of the Bill in the face of government opposition.
Current rules prevent refugees in Britain from being reunited with anyone other than their partner or children under 18. Child refugees who arrive in Britain alone are unable to bring their parents to join them.
Home Office Minister Caroline Nokes urged MPs not to support the Bill before the debate and defended the government’s response to the humanitarian crisis created by the wars in the Middle East and north Africa, many of which Britain has exacerbated.
The Bill would also reintroduce legal aid for refugees who have lost everything so that they can afford to navigate the complicated process.
Amnesty UK director Kate Allen said the hundreds of children who arrive alone face a “multitude of new struggles” such as a new language and culture as well as the psychological fallout from incredibly traumatic experiences back in their home country.
“We hope that MPs continue to show their support and send a message to the government that child refugees in this country have the right to be reunited with their families,” she said.
The Bill will progress to the next stage where it will be examined further by a committee of MPs.
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