UK government accused of separating stranded British citizens from families in Gaza

UK government accused of separating stranded British citizens from families in Gaza
British citizens allowed to leave Gaza for Egypt have found out that only passport holders were on the safe passage list, with no mention of the situation of their dependents by the Foreign Office.

2 min read
07 November, 2023
Gaza residents with UK passports who want to evacuate have not been allowed to take their families with them [Getty-file photo]

The UK government has been accused of separating British nationals in Gaza from their families by not allowing children without a passport to cross to Egypt and then back to the UK. 

British citizens allowed to leave the Gaza Strip for Egypt via the Rafah border crossing found out that only citizens with British passports were on the safe passage list, with no mention of their children or other dependents by the Foreign Office.

The UK government said that people who require a visa will need one to travel to the UK, including dependents of British nationals, such as spouses, partners, and children under 18. This is in marked contrast with what happened in other conflicts, such as the Ukraine war.

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"We have been in touch with organisations and lawyers who work to support people who have a right to come to the UK through different visa schemes. They have been quite clear that British Palestinians are being treated very differently to people fleeing the Ukraine conflict," Louise Harkin of Support Families in Gaza told The Guardian.

During the evacuation of Ukraine, any family member of a British citizen would be provided with a visa.

"We know FCDO have made exemptions in the past for people from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Sudan, it just feels like those of us with Palestinian heritage are always treated like second-class citizens," one stranded UK citizen told the PA news agency.

The person – who did not wish to be identified added: "We know of at least one other family in this situation. It is heartbreaking. Nobody should have to make this kind of choice. The world has lost its humanity.

"It is even more difficult to understand when we know of somebody who lives in the US who has managed to get 19 family members evacuated even though not one of them has an American passport."

Hundreds of British nationals are still trapped in Gaza, among an estimated 7,000 foreign nationals in the besieged and bombed Palestinian territory.

Foreign nationals have faced many difficulties crossing the border into Egypt in recent days.

“This continues to be a complex and challenging situation and we are using all diplomatic channels to press for the crossing to reopen in coordination with our international partners. We remain in contact with British nationals in the region to provide them with the latest information,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.