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Plaid Cymru MP urges UK Government to introduce Palestinian family reunification scheme

07 May 2024 3 minute read
Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. Photo Anas-Mohammed

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader has called for the UK Government to introduce a Ukraine-style visa scheme to help displaced people in Gaza to join family in the UK.

Liz Saville Roberts raised the plight of one of her constituents, who wants the introduction of the scheme to allow her Palestinian family to escape the conflict in Gaza and come to safety in the UK.

Emily Fares, from Llwyngwril in Gwynedd, has multiple family members trapped in Gaza, half of whom have now fled Rafah.

Ms Fares told her MP that the family have left for Al Mawasi, but that “there is no building there for them to stay”, “no food provisions”, “nowhere to go to the toilet, nowhere to wash”, adding that they are “utterly destitute”.

Since the start of the Israeli bombardment, Ms Fares’ family have been displaced, their home in Khan Yunis destroyed and they have been forced onto the streets with no access to food, water, or medicine.

The youngest family member is just seven months old and the oldest is 71.

Forced displacement

Ms Saville Roberts told the Deputy Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell, that “forced displacement is a war crime” and called for a visa scheme to help Gazans join family in the UK.

In December, a UK Government spokesperson said it had “no plans to introduce bespoke arrangements for people arriving from the region”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Saville Roberts said: “My constituent Emily Fares has family in Gaza. Here’s her message: ‘We have heard from our family yesterday, half of them have now fled Rafah after threatening evacuation orders fell from the sky.

‘When we spoke to them, they did not know where they were going – they mentioned Al Mawasi.

‘But there is no building there for them to stay, it is not safe there. There are no food provisions there, there is nowhere to go to the toilet, nowhere to wash. They are now utterly destitute.’

“Forced displacement is a war crime, Mr Speaker.

“His Government have it in their power to set up a scheme for people desperate to join family in the UK. If not now, when?”

Heart rending

The Deputy Foreign Secretary, Andrew Mitchell responded: “The Honourable Lady sets out the reports that she has received, which are heart-rending reports, and that is why the government, with as much vigour and cooperation with our allies, is trying to do those things which I have set out.”

Speaking after the session, Ms Saville Roberts added: “The UK Government is failing to stand up to Israel’s breaches of international law. It is standing idly by as Israeli forces carry out a horrific assault on the Gazan city of Rafah.

“The Minister’s response was wholly inadequate. There are Palestinian families here who would urgently like family reunion with their relatives in Gaza on a temporary basis. It is in the Government’s power to respond to the atrocities in Gaza with same humanity as that offered to people fleeing Ukraine. But yet the Minister refuses to take even the most modest of humanitarian steps.

“This catastrophe has to stop now. The UK must end its complicity and immediately stop arms sales to Israel. We must secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

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Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
15 days ago

Whilst our MPs and USA the same, are taking bungs from Israel, nothing will change! Apparently lining their pockets is more important than taking a moral position on the slaughter of thousands of children and their mothers, Every day I become more and more disgusted with the ‘murder by association’ of both Tory and Labour Parties! I makes me physically sick that the UK has descended so far into vile unforgivable mire! NRVER forget or forgive. Today, it is the Children of Gaza, tomorrow it could be you and yours!

14 days ago

Or maybe not destroy their homes and force them out of their own country. I know we abandoned or right to return to our ancient land in what is now England, (Wales is but ancontinuation of Britain when the Britons ruled it) are we really going to let Isreal doing the same to Palestinians?

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