01 March, 2024 - By West London Welcome

Calling for a Palestinian Family Visa Scheme

We, along with other refugee charities, are calling for the UK government to create a visa scheme for Gazans to join their families here.

Take the case of a Palestinian refugee woman we support each week at West London Welcome, who is well-loved in our community. Her mother in Gaza has cancer; her house and hospital was bombed. The family don’t have the money to pay thousands to brokers at the Rafah crossing to get over the border. There is simply no way her mother can get out without a visa. A family visa for her would be a lifeline.

A massive hurdle is the Home Office’s impossible requirement for people to do biometrics (fingerprints/photos) in Gaza before leaving. There are no working visa application centres in Gaza. In contrast, it was not required for Ukrainians to do biometrics before leaving their country after the war broke out – they could do them here in the UK, as we found while supporting many Ukrainians arriving in West London when the war began two years ago.

A family visa scheme supported thousands of Ukrainians to come to the UK from 2022 onwards, and we were glad to support those who arrived in West London – the same can be done for Palestinians now.

There is already much work happening on this issue. We are working with lawyers on our Palestinian family case, who are challenging the Home Office’s refusals to grant visas so far. And this week we attended an inspiring Project Save Gaza meeting in the Lords (image above), where there was considerable support from Baroness Bennett, parliamentarians Claudia Webbe MP, Kim Johnson MP, and a wide range of refugee and humanitarian NGOs and groups.

The petition for a Palestinian family visa scheme can be signed here. Once it reaches 100,000 signatures the issue must be debated in Parliament.