Archbishop of Canterbury calls for expansion of family reunion

December 30, 2022

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby led a debate in the House of Lords on 9th December on the principles that should underpin our asylum system in the UK. Read our briefing.

The Archbishop highlighted the importance of expanding family reunion as a safe route to the UK. 

His comments were echoed by the Bishops of Durham and York. The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, emphasised in his speech that ‘We must seek to maintain and restore family unity wherever possible.’

He pointed out that ‘Family reunion numbers have dropped by 36% from pre-pandemic levels, and 90% of those who use this route are women and children.’ 

The Bishop of Durham also wrote in the Northern Echo expanding upon the ideas in the debate:

In the absence of safe routes, desperate people are at the mercy of smugglers taking criminal advantage and are left with the impossible choice to travel irregularly to reunite with their families.

When Australia restricted family reunion, they saw a corresponding rise in small boat crossings. If we want to prevent people risking their lives, we must provide a safe way for them to reunite with their loved ones.

This is not so hard for us to understand. It is about love. Is there any parent among us who would not take extreme risks to be reunited with their child? The problem with the government’s policy is that it does not account for human nature: families belong together.