Mothers in the London-based All African Women’s Group are campaigning for the right to be reunited with their children following the successful settlement of their asylum claims. Many of the women, most of whom have experienced rape and torture, felt they had no choice but to leave their children in order to keep them safe, but when they enter the UK they are not recognised as mothers with dependants:
We sometimes lose contact with children back home. Or we hear of them suffering without our protection — living on the streets after caring relatives have died; taken by the military; or even turning to pick-pocketing and prostitution to survive and feed the younger ones.
We have hardly enough to feed ourselves but we do all we can to send money home for them. And if we don’t know where they are, we raise money to search for them. We do low-paid, illegal work or even sleep with men for money for them.
Currently, there is no guarantee that children left behind in their home countries will be granted asylum in the UK should their mothers win the right to stay here, and children who turn 18 while their parents’ claim is being processed (often a matter of years) have no right to family reunion in the UK.
The mothers have put together a list of demands:
· To be recognised as mothers, with dependent children
· That when the government grants amnesty to families with children here – their right to stay without having to establish a fear of persecution – that we, together with our children back home, must also have a right to family amnesty. Though we are divided, we are a family.
· Unconditional right to family reunion to everyone who wins the right to stay in the UK (whether under the refugee convention, humanitarian protection, human rights act, legacy process or other grounds).
· The right of children to join their mother even if they turned 18 before her asylum claim was settled.
You can show your support for these demands by signing the campaign petition. I’ll keep you updated with ways we can support the mothers, but in the meantime please contact the All African Women’s Group if you’d like to get involved: