Habib, now 17, is from Darfur, a region in western Sudan. He was just 15 when he was arrested by the police, after going to the market with friends. He said he was imprisoned for a week, tortured, and questioned about his father’s political associations and activities, of which he
Habib said that when he was released, his mother told him he needed to leave Sudan quickly. He left the same day with an uncle, leaving behind his younger siblings (aged nine and 11) and a disabled older brother to whom he was very close. Two of his older brothers were later imprisoned and Habib explained how difficult it was to hear about this when he was so far away from his family, especially his mother.
Habib reached Libya where, he said, he experienced serious human rights abuses at the hands of people smugglers. He described how he has constant flashbacks of the moment he saw smugglers killing a baby as its mother was giving birth. After hearing of his brothers’ imprisonment, Habib and his uncle decided to leave Libya for Europe but became separated. On the journey alone to Europe, Habib said, his boat capsized; he was rescued by Italian coastguards but said he saw many people drown.
Habib spent eight months in the camp in Calais known as the ‘jungle’ before coming to the UK. He has started tracing his family in the hope that he could be reunited with them as a way of moving on from the horror of the last few years. He discovered that his mother and siblings are living in a refugee camp in Chad.
Our report, Without My Family, details how the UK’s family reunion policy harms child refugees. Based on in-depth interviews with children and young people, and the professionals who work with them, the report shows how the UK Government’s hard-line policy deliberately keeps child refugees separated from their families.
The impact of family separation on children is clear: constant anxiety, fear for the safety of their families, and in some cases serious damage to their mental health.
January 10, 2020
Fresh research published by the Refugee Council, Amnesty International and Save the Children shows that…