accessibility & help

MPs debate widening refugee family reunion rules following British Red Cross 'Torn Apart' campaign

9 June 2016

MPs will today debate widening the UK’s refugee family reunion rules, following calls from the British Red Cross and its Torn Apart campaign. Current UK asylum rules allow people granted refugee status to bring close family members to join them, however this does not include children aged 18 or over.

The debate, secured by Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, will discuss expanding the current rules around the age limit on family reunion. The British Red Cross is calling for family reunion to be expanded to include children up to the age of 25, who were living with their parents when they were forced to leave their home country.

British Red Cross Chief Executive Mike Adamson said: “We are witnessing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII, but our restrictive rules around family reunion mean that young people are torn apart from their families.

“It is vital that safe and legal routes to protection are expanded, which is what family reunion offers. For many, the only way to reunite with their parents may be to place their lives in the hands of dangerous people traffickers.

“Refugee families, who have already been through more pain and trauma than most of us can ever imagine, deserve better than this. Any parent will tell you that you do not stop being a parent to your child when they turn 18.”

The British Red Cross’s Torn Apart campaign is asking people to email their MP to take action on refugee family reunion:

The campaign has won the backing of parliamentarians across a range of parties including Alastair Carmichael MP, who said:

“The Torn Apart campaign puts a human face to the heart-breaking consequences of Home Office rules keeping families apart. Today I will ask the Immigration Minister to make a few simple changes to the rules to allow families to be reunited as international law and moral obligation demands of us.

“No one is pretending that this is the silver bullet to solve the refugee crisis but that is no reason for not doing it. A small change will make a huge difference to the families currently being forced to live apart.”

The debate will be held at 3.00pm at Westminster Hall and can be watched at




Notes to editors

For more information, interviews or case studies call Anna MacSwan on 0207 877 7519 or email

The British Red Cross is the largest provider of support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Family reunion work has been a key activity of the British Red Cross since 1992. So far in 2016 the British Red Cross has reunited 606 family members through its travel assistance programme.



The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.