Letter: Anguish felt by asylum seekers

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The Independent Online
Sir: In February you reported on a hunger strike by Kurdish asylum seekers desperate for their applications to be decided by the Home Office. Until a decision had been given, they could not begin to apply to be reunited with their wives and dependent children. Today (2 April) you report the tragic case of Turan Pekoz who became so desperate at the prolonged separation from his family that he burnt himself to death in a protest that went wrong.

Prolonged delays in decision- making as well as Home Office regulations result in many people having to wait between three and seven years before having a right to family reunion.

During this period many marriages have broken down. Some children reach the age of 18, after which they are not admitted as dependents. The trauma and tragedy inherent in this system cannot be exaggerated. Such treatment flies in the face of Article 16 (3) of the Universal declaration of Human Rights: 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State'. It is also inconsistent with our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is surely time the Government thought again about family reunion for those permitted to remain here for humanitarian reasons.

Yours faithfully

M. LOUISE PIROUET

Co-ordinator

Charter '87 for Refugees

Cambridge

2 April

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