A woman is calling on the Home Secretary to allow her 21-year-old son to come to the UK as she fears he is in grave danger of being killed by the Syrian army.
Hadiya Antar, a Syrian refugee who was resettled in North Yorkshire three years ago with her husband, son and two daughters with complex health needs, said she is plagued by fear over the safety of her son, Madhi, who is living alone in Lebanon.
Mrs Antar is calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to support her family by changing immigration rules to allow adult children of refugees to be safely resettled.
Mrs Antar and her family were forced to flee following the outbreak of Syria’s deadly civil war.
She said: “We lived in a small village called Alhara when war happened the whole village was destroyed.
“The Syrian army burnt all of our houses. We left everything to find somewhere safe with my children.
“But at the time my son, Madhi, was in Beirut working.”
The Refugee Council warned that many like the Antar family are suffering at the hands of immigration policies which prevent refugees from being reunited with children over the age of 18.
Dr Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “Day in, day out, we see the very real impact these rules are having on refugees as they struggle to rebuild their lives here.
“The Home Secretary has the power to amend these unfair rules in an instant, with the stroke of a pen.”
Mrs Antar, 54, said that despite feeling at home in the UK, with her children doing well at school and college and her daughters having access to the specialist healthcare they need, she still feels unable to re-build her life due to concerns about Madhi.
She said: “I cannot describe the impact not being with my son has on me – I don’t know where to start, I don’t sleep well. This is our country now. As a family we have been shattered. I would just keep on asking if I could bring over my son. Even if I had to ask the whole world, I would keep asking.”
The Refugee Council is urging Home Secretary Priti Patel to amend what it says are “unfair” rules so families like the Antars and Madhi, who escaped National Service by fleeing to Lebanon, can be reunited.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, and the Government works to provide safe and legal routes to bring families of refugees together.
“In the last year alone, 6,035 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. Of these, around half - 3,029 - were issued to children.”