Adnan had to leave his home in Syria in 2015. He arrived in the UK in November 2015, and was granted leave to remain in Glasgow in June 2016.Three months later, his wife, son (5) and daughter (7) were able to join him in Glasgow via refugee family reunion. Adnan and his wife are learning English and volunteering in community projects and both children are doing well at school. When asked to tell his family’s story, Adnan wrote “Safe At Last – a children’s tale”. This story illustrates the vital role that family reunion policy plays in reuniting refugees in
safety in the UK, and how the current limitations of that policy keep some family members separated.
By Adnan Antar
“Until 2015 everything was good for Aladdin and Amina.
Aladdin and Amina lived in a kingdom together, they didn’t need anything, as they had everything you could imagine. They had a very good life.
Suddenly the crazy and ugly war reached their home.
Aladdin and Amina experienced tragedy – they lost everything during the war and their father went away to find a new life for the family.
It was very hard for their father to go, but he knew he had to. He pushed himself more every day on a long journey looking for safety.
Aladdin and Amina stayed with their mother and she had a hard time too. She struggled to look after them both but did her very best while they waited for news from their father.
Their father pushed himself and tried very hard until he reached a place where he knew he was safe. Soon Aladdin and Amina, and their mother, came to live in this safe place with their father.
Now they live a new life together in Scotland in the beautiful city of Glasgow.
Aladdin enjoys his new life and Amina loves to study in school. Most important of all, Aladdin, Amina and their mother are now with their father so they can live together as a family.
They learn all about Scottish culture like the Highland cows and the food and all about how Scottish people live. The family has support from all the Scottish community and Aladdin and Amina have lots of friends at school.
This place really makes a difference for them, it is comfortable and they love their new environment. They all forgot about what happened during the war.
But they had to leave some of their family behind, where the war is happening. Aladdin and Amina are safe in Scotland with their parents, but their aunt and uncle are still not safe.
Their father is very confused – he wants to help the rest of his family but he can’t. He is afraid for them. He does not know if his brother and sister can ever join the family in Scotland, and does not think anyone can help.”
Adnan wrote this as a story. But this is reality for his family and many, many others. The UK government could do more to enable refugees with family members in the UK to travel here safely. Oxfam and partners are calling on the UK government to:
- Expand the criteria of who qualifies as a family member to include siblings, young adults dependent on the family unit, parents, in-laws, and other dependent relatives,
- Allow an expanded group of extended family members including adult siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents to sponsor child relatives to join them where it is deemed in the child’s best interests and
- Allow unaccompanied children granted refugee status in the UK to bring family members here under the family reunion policy.
- Reintroduce legal aid for refugee family reunion
*Name changed to protect the writer and his family;
Read our new joint policy briefing: Together Again: Reuniting refugee families in safety – what the UK can do