Syrian refugee family's teenage children cannot join them in Sheffield


A Syrian refugee family living in Britain have spoken of the "heartrending" pain of being separated from their two teenage children who cannot currently claim asylum in the UK.

In a plea to Home Secretary Theresa May, the Alwadi family said they were forced to flee their home due to war and want to be able to reunite their family in Sheffield, where they have since settled.

While Muhammed Alwadi, his wife Amal and their two youngest children Lin and Majd have been able to move to the UK, they said their family life has been torn apart because their eldest children cannot join them as they are aged over 18.

The family fled Syria for Libya in 2012, before Mr Alwadi made the journey to Europe to find safe refuge for his family. He was granted refugee status at the end of 2014.

Although he was reunited with his wife and young children, 19-year-old Kusai is living in a refugee camp in Calais while Athar, 20, is in Turkey.

In a video released by the British Red Cross, their mother said: "I still remember their voices in my ears every day," adding: "Our life is truly heartrending without them."

Mr Alwadi said: "Show me a father who can live far away from his children, in addition to living in a new country. We fled our home country due to war, bombing and destruction. Now I can no longer see them and they cannot see me."

The British Red Cross is appealing for the Government to widen its rules so whole families can be reunited, and urged members of the public to send a message to their local MP calling for a change in policy.

Alex Fraser, director of refugee support and international family tracing at the British Red Cross, said parents do not stop becoming parents when their children turn 18.

He said: "The Alwadi family are just one example of how current Government policy is keeping families separated and alone, at a time when being together as a family is what matters to them most.

"Their situation is heartbreaking - refugee families, who have already been through more pain and trauma than most of us can ever imagine, deserve better than this.

"No one should flee conflict only to endure more loss and pain simply because their child is over the age of 18."