Plight of Syrian family separated from their child has raised more concerns and calls that the UK Government is falling short
AMNESTY SCOTLAND joined SNP MP Owen Thompson in a call for urgent action from the UK Government to help a Syrian boy, once feared dead, to be reunited with his parents in Scotland.
The MP for Midlothian wrote to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd to ask her to help nine year old Mohamed Karou after receiving an assurance from Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions that his case will be looked into.
The Home Office response has been to request that Karou undergo a DNA test at an approved centre before he can be reunited with his parents, despite the fact there are no such centres in Syria due to the ongoing and devastating civil war.
"The Home Office must take these responsibilities seriously and ensure bureaucracy is not getting in the way of providing the comfort and safety of family reunions." Naomi McAuliffe
Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International's Scotland programme director, said: "It is impossible for us to imagine how the Karou family are feeling – they fled conflict ravaged Syria grieving for their son Mohamed who was killed during the escape – only to discover after reaching the safety of Scotland that their 9-year-old is actually alive but trapped in the war-torn country.
"We welcome Theresa May's assurances that Mohamed Karou's case will be investigated but sadly he is only one of thousands of vulnerable children separated from their families due to conflict who urgently need to be reunited with family members.
"This week, the independent Chief Inspector found the Home Office culpable of delays, inconsistencies, and a lack of compassion in ensuring that applications are processed efficiently so people are reunited with their families already in this country.
"The Home Office must take these responsibilities seriously and ensure bureaucracy is not getting in the way of providing the comfort and safety of family reunions."
Mohamed’s parents escaped through north east Syria earlier this year believing that their nine year old son had been killed, however the couple, now residing in Penicuik, have discovered that their son is alive but is trapped inside Syria.
Thompson and the SNP stated that the Home Office requirements in the case are extreme as the nearest approved DNA centres are in neighbouring countries, all of which have closed their borders to Syria.
"Unfortunately Mohamed is only one of thousands of children in a siOwmilar situation and the policy of reuniting children with their families must be re-examined. The UK Government can and should do more to help the innocent people of Syria caught up in this devastating conflict." Owen Thompson
Thompson said: "This family have gone through an unimaginable amount of pain: from finding out that their son is still alive to the agony and frustration of the last six months trying to get Mohamed out of Syria.
"A Red Cross chaperone has been offered to take Mohamed across the border but the Home Office has advised against this because it is just too dangerous – this little boy is in an extremely vulnerable position and urgently needs our help to ensure that he can be reunited with his family in Scotland.
"In light of the exceptional circumstances in this case, I call on the Home Secretary to take immediate action to remove Mohamed from the imminent danger he faces.
"Unfortunately Mohamed is only one of thousands of children in a similar situation and the policy of reuniting children with their families must be re-examined. The UK Government can and should do more to help the innocent people of Syria caught up in this devastating conflict."
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government celebrated receiving Scotland’s first 1000 refugees with Angela Constance announcing new funding to help with resettlement, education, language and job training.
Since the establishment of the Home Office’s Syrian vulnerable person resettlement scheme last year, Scotland has taken in a third of the UK’s 20,000 proposed "refugee allotment".
Picture courtesy of Luca Vanzella
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