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Racism and family separation adds to struggles of refugees

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Feb 14, 2018 - 7:02:40 PM

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A new report released by Oxfam International and the Refugee Council called “Safe but not settled: the impact of family separation on refugees in the UK,” reveals there are detrimental mental, emotional and social effects on fleeing refugees tied directly to the disconnection from their families.

The report examined UK policies and methods of integrating refugees into society and the difficulty factors of the process.  The release of the report comes before the UK Parliament debates and votes on the Refugee Family Reunion Bill on March 16. 

It is universally recognized that family is the cornerstone of a nation. But for refugees fleeing conflict areas and persecution, separation from family and adverse legalities negatively impact resettlement in the UK.

UK refugee policies are rooted in discriminatory racism that compounds the problem of resettlement and reunion, analysts noted.


“What people have to realize is that Britain has some of the harshest, most draconian racially codified immigration laws of any nation in the world,” said Lee Jasper, an anti-racism and human rights activist in the UK.

“Over the last 25 years the British government has enacted new restrictive immigration legislation … so there’s been a continually ratcheting up of immigration policy in the UK,” he said.

The report highlighted how refugees’ grueling experiences of conflict, persecution and abuse are exacerbated by the UK’s restrictions on other family members joining them. The UK allows adult refugees to only apply for their spouses—married or civil—and dependent children under 18, who were part of their nucleus family before fleeing their countries.

The European nation doesn’t consider grandparents, parents, siblings and children, 18 and over in the family nucleus, however strong their bonds of love, shared suffering or how dependent they are on members who reached the UK.

“Easing the stranglehold will help some of those forced to flee due to the global refugee crisis.” said the Refugee Council, on its website.

Refugees in limbo

Refugees experienced traumatic losses of life, property and all that they know. “We want them to have a chance to rebuild their lives, so they can have safe, futures together,” the Refugee Council added.

The report said in nearly three-quarters (32 out of 44) of the cases they researched, the separated family members were not eligible for refugee family reunion. Under the UK’s current immigration  rules, three-quarters of the cases researched fails eligibility for Refugee Family Reunion.

Britain is a magnate that draws people escaping war and poverty, but refugees are being pushed into a proverbial “twilight zone,” Mr. Jasper told The Final Call.

People from diverse countries live in Britain. Naturally refugees arriving for safe-haven rely on support from family and people also from their home countries and cultures.

Refugees from South Sudan at the Imvepi refugee camp in Arua district, northern Uganda. Photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
However, African and Muslim refugees, end up under a status where they are ineligible for basic services like housing, personal health care, and education.

According to, a fact checking UK-based charity organization, Almost 90 percent of asylum seekers came from Asian or African countries in 2016. The top five nationalities for UK asylum applications were Iranian, Pakistani, Iraqi, Afghan and Bangladeshi.

In terms of asylum grants (before any appeal), Syrians topped the list, followed by Iranians, Eritreans, Sudanese and Afghans.

“The codification of racism written into British law—that’s not exclusively Black or African—in policy terms it’s expressed in the culture of the working of the Immigration Department and the Police Department.  Both … are institutionally discriminatory,” said Mr. Jasper. 

However, “all over the world Africans are facing this kind of hostility … legislation … immigration policy and as Africa itself is on the move. Millions of Africans seeking to escape the poverty of their own countries are heading for Europe and the West.”

Xenophobia factors

A mother and child, pictured at Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: UN Photo/Fardin Waezi
A worldwide wave of White nationalism permeated Europe, which places the UK in a catch—22 situation. Their refugee problem comes amid a time of White population decline and growing economic distress. The UK does not want the refugees, but it needs the refugees, said Mr. Jasper.

“It is damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” he reasoned.  “They see themselves losing that great White Anglo-Saxon power and privilege that they have enjoyed for so long coming to an end.”

With refugees and migrants pouring in from Africa and other non-White countries to the UK, Europeans foresee a time they will become the minority.  But on the economic front resettled refugees add a needed workforce for service positions that Whites cannot fill based on their declining numbers.

Blacks and ethnic minorities are currently 14 percent of the population across England and Wales, according to a study by Policy Exchange, a UK-based think tank.

Although Whites are the majority, the Black and ethnic minority population has doubled in the past decade accounting for 80 percent of growth. Comparatively, the White population remained constant.


 A worsening worldwide problem

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRC) says in the global arena 20 people are displaced every minute a day. Its annual Global Trends report said as of May 2017, an astounding increase of refugees, internally displaced people, asylum-seekers and stateless people exist.

An unprecedented 65.6 million people were forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees with half under 18 years old.

From January to August 2017, European countries received 396,700 asylum applications—down 56 percent compared to the same period in 2016—mainly from Syria (58,200), Afghanistan (27,800), Nigeria (26,200) and Iraq (25,600). Turkey remains host to the world’s largest refugee population, with 3.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers, the majority from war ravaged Syria.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement. The agency pledged more advocacy in Europe for refugee integration and reunion.

In the UK many refugees are exploited living without legal status, making it a no-win situation for all involved.

“It’s better to give these people legal status and have them earn money in proper jobs contributing to the tax economy then living in a sort of twilight zone of criminal exploitation because of their lack of immigration status,” said Mr. Jasper.