RLS statement on the war in Ukraine
On the 1st of March 2022, the UK Prime Minister announced a set of concessions allowing British nationals and individuals settled in the UK to bring their parents, grandparents, adult children and siblings fleeing Ukraine, to the UK. Onerous maintenance and language requirements are being waived.
On the 2nd of March, the EU Commission tabled its proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) to assist people fleeing Ukraine.
We welcome the initiatives of the UK government and the EU Commission to adopt and propose measures to urgently support people fleeing war. However, the measures adopted by the UK government do not constitute a refugee protection route but rather, expand a family reunion route which remains a complicated and onerous procedure. We’ve compiled a handful of useful resources and contacts for those who want to join family in the UK here.
The temporary protection regime enshrined in the TPD provides a 1-3 year residence permit and is not the same as refugee or subsidiary protection. Though the member states retain the prerogative to provide more favourable protection status and are obliged to guarantee access to the normal asylum procedure, we urge the Commission to go further and take a principled position of standing up for all people fleeing war wherever they come from.
Six dead bodies were found yesterday morning on the shores of Lesvos, Greece. These people did not deserve to drown in their search of sanctuary.
Standing in solidarity with people fleeing Ukraine does not mean that we should remain silent to the glaring disparity in the UK/EU reaction vis-a-vis the survivors of ongoing conflicts in the global south. Governments and the civil society must all be accountable to showing up with the same fervour for all displaced and war ravaged communities.
RLS works with people fleeing conflict and will continue to elevate their voices to challenge a deeply flawed and problematic family reunion framework in the UK. The communities we work with struggle to reunite with their families due to the extremely complicated and restrictive UK and EU immigration rules. Children joining British relatives or parents are faced with excruciating scrutiny and punitive fees, post-flight spouses of refugees need to jump through hoops to reunite with their loved ones and refugees stuck in the asylum procedure for years are deprived of their right to family life EVERY DAY.
All displaced people fleeing war, persecution and violence are equally worthy of a fair, accessible and equitable immigration system, irrespective of where they come from, what their faith and ethnic origin is.
We call for these emergency measures and concessions to be applied to all those forced to flee their homes.