top of page

The unseen victims of Brexit

(boy sat in Greece behind a pile of bags)

London, 19/04/2024

Aalem and his family’s story demonstrates one of the least reported issues that have resulted from Brexit - asylum seekers hoping to reunite with their loved ones are facing new, cruel barriers. 

As Aalem’s lawyer Rhona says, “Asylum seeking children like Aalem are the unseen victims of Brexit and this is precisely the need that RLS is looking to address”

This is one of our specialist areas, and an area where there’s little other support available.

You can read Aalem’s story below. 

We’re currently trying to raise at least £8,000 so that we can continue to provide our essential legal support. 

If you can help, please donate here:

We’ve changed Aalem and his sister’s names to protect their identities. 

Aalem’s story 

Aalem’s only 19, but thanks to the stress of the past few years he looks old for his age. He’s been losing his hair, which has also started to turn grey.

He always knew that his journey to flee the Taliban would be tough. But for years it’s been the UK’s Home Office that’s held them up. 

As his lawyer, our colleague Rhona says “I’d love to ask the Home Office, ‘was it worth it?’ Aalem and his family suffered years of anguish, years of their childhood that they won’t get back, for no reason.”

Fleeing home

In 2019 Aalem and Jamilah’s father and older brother were murdered by the Taliban because their father was a police officer. The family were forced to flee their home and their mother decided that Aalem and his brother needed to leave Afghanistan for their protection.  

Aalem was just 14 years old, his brother around 10. The boys hoped to reach the UK where their sister, Jalimah, was living with her British husband. 

Through a difficult journey and with exploitative agents, the brothers tried to stay close. However, when they had to flee gunfire during their journey, Aalem grabbed the wrong hand in the chaos. He mistook another child for his brother, and they were separated. The start of a long, lonely journey. 

Alone in Greece

Aalem was determined to find his little brother. He heard that a child matching his description was in Greece and he made his way to join him. However, when Aalem arrived he learnt that he’d missed his brother by a matter of weeks. 

Those few weeks were crucial. While his little brother was able to reunite with his family in the UK under the former EU rules, Aalem would need to try to navigate the mess of a system that was left post-Brexit. 

Rhona commented, “Aalem and his brother’s cases were almost identical, they just applied at different times”.

“The biggest challenge and problem we faced was being in limbo and the long wait we had to go through. This is the biggest curse a person can have”, Aalem.

His first application under this system was rejected. We knew this wasn’t right, so we appealed the case. 

“I was away from my family and lonely” Aalem.

The importance of legal support

This is a complex system. An application like this is not navigable without expert legal help. There’s almost no other legal support available in this area, so our family reunion project was essential to bringing the family back together.

“I can simply say that Rhona is a great woman. I’m very appreciative of her hard work. The services we received were absolutely excellent. God bless you for helping me.” Jamilah

Safely reunited, at last 

This was a lengthy process. Their first application could have been accepted, instead we had to fight for years. An extremely stressful process for Aalem and his family. 

Following his successful appeal. Aalem was granted indefinite leave to enter the UK. This means that there’s no expiry date on his leave here. 

Finally, in the last couple of weeks, Aalem arrived in London to join his family. “We see light at the end of the tunnel. We have lots of plans for the future together.”

A message for the Home Office

When asked about her message to the Home Office, Jamilah told us “they should do their utmost to expedite the process of family reunion. It destroys the fabric of families. It disorientates them and they lose their health because of this situation.”

“Other people going through the same process should not lose their hope. They should do what they can to reach their goal.”

Our campaign 

To keep supporting families like Aalem’s and Jamilah’s we need to raise at least £8,000. 

Every donation makes a difference. Just £30 can be enough to answer somebody who needs our help. 

If you’re able to donate, you can here: 

Thank you

Photo: ©bookerphotos


Follow Us
  • Instagram RLS Athens
  • Twitter RLS Athens
  • Facebook RLS Athens
  • LinkedIn RLS Athens
Recent Posts
bottom of page