Stranded refugee to reunite with brother after UK Home Office rejection overturned

Stranded refugee to reunite with brother after UK Home Office rejection overturned
A young asylum seeker on the island of Samos in Greece will reunite with his brother in the UK soon, following a decision last week to overturn the Home Office’s rejection of his family reunion claim over mental health concerns.
3 min read
22 September, 2021
Migrants on the Greek island of Samos are being moved to a new 'closed' camp which MSF called a 'new prison' [Getty]

A severely depressed young asylum seeker stranded at a Greek refugee camp will be reunited with his brother after a UK Home Office decision preventing his resettlement in Britain was overturned. 

Judge Jackson, an immigration judge, reversed the UK government’s initial rejection of the family reunion application last week, saying that mental health concerns had a “significant weight” in her decision. 

The first verdict was issued because of “insufficient” evidence of a close relationship. 

Judge Jackson ruled that the young migrant, deemed severely depressed and suicidal by a clinical assessment, must be transferred to the UK “as soon as possible”, on the grounds that exclusion from Britain was a disproportionate breach of his right to family life. 

The migrant, who is around 18 years old, has been living alone on the island of Samos since 2019. He had to leave his home country for fear of detention and torture.  

He has been staying at a camp near the island’s town Vathy, which will be closed down soon to make way for new EU-funded “closed” asylum centres - slammed as a “new prison” by humanitarian organisation MSF.  

During his time in Greece, the young asylum seeker’s tent was destroyed in a fire at Vathy camp on Sunday, according to The Independent. 

“The fire came to my tent and I was scared, so I left the tent. Everything has been damaged except that I just managed to rescue my papers and my phone. I’m homeless,” he said.

There were no injuries in the fire but a number of sheds where 300 refugees lived damaged. 

He had also been bullied and sexually assaulted.

“A few weeks ago I was walking to meet my solicitor and two older men tried to have sex with me. They gave me a kiss on my cheeks, then I ran away,” the young man also said. 

“I’m really, really scared. I don’t know where to go. I can’t sleep outside. Things are becoming worse and worse here.” 

The clinical assessment seen by Judge Jackson made it clear that the young migrant cannot recover from his “complex chronic traumatised state [if] he remains in this environment, regardless of any treatment he can receive.”

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The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) charity, who provided medical assistance on the island, told The New Arab about the scale and seriousness of the mental health care needed at the migrant camps. 

From January to August 2021, MSF completed 1,500 mental health consultations on Samos, the majority of which diagnosed symptoms of “depression and post-traumatic stress disorder". 

“People seeking protection in Europe have already been exposed to violence and hardship, and the hotspots are neither safe nor healthy places for them,” said Betty Siafaka, a mental health supervisor on Samos at MSF.

The young man's UK-based lawyer, Rachel Harger of Bindmans Solicitors, said: "conditions on Samos are increasingly volatile and dangerous and the burning down of Samir's tent is just [the] latest example of events which continue to traumatise him."

Immigration lawyer Sarah Pinder told The New Arab that it was “very common” for the UK Home Office to reject family reunion claims. Parents or siblings do not tend to qualify for resettlement, she added.