Six refugee families win legal action after being refused UK admission


Six refugee families who were refused admission to the UK have won their legal action against the Home Office.

The group were among 75 individuals from Ethiopia, Iran, Sudan and Syria who were washed up on the south-west coast of Cyprus in October 1998 after the boat in which they were travelling to Italy foundered.

Recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention, they have remained in Dhekelia in the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Cyprus for the past 17 years stuck in a legal "limbo".

In November 2014, the Home Secretary decided that they could not be admitted to the UK and six claimants - the heads of their families - launched a High Court challenge on the basis that the UK was in breach of its obligations under the Convention.

On Thursday in London, Mr Justice Foskett quashed the decision and remitted it for further consideration in the light of his judgment and all relevant up-to-date factors.

Tessa Gregory, of law firm Leigh Day, said: "We are pleased that the court has quashed the Home Secretary's decision. The Government can now avoid further costly legal proceedings by allowing this small group of recognised refugees to resettle in the UK.

"To do so would not create a dangerous precedent or a back-door to the UK, it would simply be a humanitarian response in recognition of the unique circumstances of these families. It is extraordinary that successive UK Governments have allowed this situation to fester for so long leaving the children of refugees to grow up in increasingly hopeless and squalid conditions.

"We hope that the Home Secretary will now do the right thing. Until she does we will continue to seek the only lawful durable solution: resettlement of our clients in the UK."

Lead claimant Tag Bashir said: "We hope that with today's judgment we are one step closer to providing our children with a decent future. I was 26 years old when I came to the SBA and for 17 years I have been trying to work and build a life for my family but there is nothing here.

"I worry every day about my three children and how this situation and the uncertainty is affecting them. I hope the UK Government will finally recognise that we are their responsibility and allow us to come to the UK where our only wish is to work hard and integrate into society."