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Joint letter calling for urgent Gaza Family Scheme

Kamena Dorling
The Gaza Families Reunited campaign (@GazaFamReunited on Twitter/X) coordinated the below joint letter and sent it to the Home Secretary on 2 April 2024. The letter was drafted in consultation with migrants’ rights (including refugee rights) organisations as well as Palestinians seeking to bring their family members to safety from Gaza.


Dear Home Secretary,

On behalf of behalf of 75 organisations, law centres, law firms, and funders working in the migrants’ (including refugees’), children’s, and human rights’ sectors across the UK, we are calling for you to urgently create a Gaza Family Scheme to enable family members of Palestinians in the UK to reunite with their loved ones and offer temporary sanctuary until it is safe to return. 

With each passing hour, the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate - both due to bombardment as well as lack of access to food or medication. More than 30,000 people have been killed -  a third of whom are children - with many more remaining uncounted while trapped under the rubble. Palestinians are currently bracing for Israel’s threatened ground assault on Rafah - formerly claimed as a ‘safe zone’ for civilians - in spite of widespread international outcry, including on the part of the British Government.

Existing immigration routes are insufficient and not working. Palestinians eligible under existing routes cannot make an immigration application to be cleared for entry to the UK unless they have enrolled their biometrics. However, the only visa application centres where Palestinians can actually do so are in Egypt. Unlike in the case of British nationals, for whom the British Government has facilitated evacuation to Egypt, the British Government is not facilitating safe passage for Palestinians in Gaza seeking to reunite with their family members in the UK. Palestinians in Gaza are thus trapped in a catch-22: the British Government is demanding that they register biometrics, but it is denying them a viable way of doing so. 

Many families are now being forced to set up crowdfunders in the sum of tens of thousands of pounds to arrange for their loved ones to be evacuated to Egypt by a private company. While it is possible to apply to defer or waive biometric requirements, despite the clearly dangerous (and in some cases, virtually impossible) journey involved in enrolling biometrics in Egypt, almost all of these applications are rejected. Two people have been killed while waiting for a decision on their family reunion visa under existing routes. Even if families are able to pay for their loved ones’ evacuation into Egypt, not all family members are eligible under existing routes and those who are have to pay additional, extortionate visa fees. 

It is in this context that Palestinian families in the UK have called for a Gaza Family Scheme alongside a permanent and immediate ceasefire (supported by 71% of the British public, according to a recent poll). Modelled after the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Gaza Family Scheme would enable Palestinians in Gaza to reunite with their immediate and extended family members in the UK - including their partners, children, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents, and in-laws - until it is safe to return. It would also include provision for safe evacuation and biometric waiver/deferral,  as was done for those fleeing Ukraine. Palestinians arriving on this scheme, as with the Ukrainian Family Scheme, would be able to work, study, and access public funds in the UK while they are granted temporary sanctuary here.

Over 56,000 members of the British public have supported a petition calling for a Gaza Family Scheme to be introduced in the UK. In our view, a Gaza Family Scheme is long overdue to protect human life and the right to family unity until it is safe for Palestinians to return. We, therefore, support the Gaza Families Reunited Campaign in its calls for such a scheme to be implemented with urgency.

Best regards,






Asylum Support Appeals Project
Bail for Immigration Detainees
Bates Wells Immigration Department
Birnberg Peirce Ltd
Children and Families Across Borders
City of Sanctuary UK
Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu)
Coram Children's Legal Centre
Counterpoints Arts
Coventry Asylum & Refugee Action Group
Detention Action
Duncan Lewis
Evesham Vale Welcomes Refugees
FODI (Sunderland)
Govan Community Project
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit
Haringey Welcome
Helen Bamber Foundation
Here for Good
Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA)
Islington Law Centre
Jesuit Refugee Service UK
JustRight Scotland
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Leigh Day Immigration and Asylum Team
Manchester Amnesty International group
Migrant Champions Network
Migrant Democracy Project
Migrants in Culture
Migrants Organise
Migrants' Rights Network
Migration Exchange
Migration Justice Project, Law Centre NI
Music Action International
New Citizen's Gateway
North West Migrants Forum
One Life To Live
Orchid of Siam
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Rainbow Migration
Refugee Action
Refugee Council
Refugee Legal Support
Reunite Families UK
Revoke CIC
Right to Remain
Riverway Law
Room to Heal
Safe Passage International
Scottish Refugee Council
Social Workers Without Borders
Southeast and East Asian Centre
St Augustine's Centre, Halifax
Student Action for Refugees (STAR)
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
The Pickwell Foundation
The Voice of Domestic Workers
Together with Migrant Children
Voices in Exile
Waltham Forest Migrant Action (WFMA)
West London Welcome
West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
Women for Refugee Women
Work Rights Centre