Social Justice

Eddie Izzard and Co target refugee reunion law fix with Unicef new film

The comic is joined by Olivia Colman, Martin Bell OBE and Sir Chris Hoy in flick calling for children to be reunited with close family when fleeing war, violence or persecution

Eddie Izzard

Friend of The Big Issue Eddie Izzard has followed in the footsteps of Michael Sheen to support Unicef’s refugee reunion law campaign in a new film.

The stand-up comic reflects on what makes his family relationships so special alongside fellow actor Olivia Colman, Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell OBE for the 60-second We Are Family flick.

The celebrity-packed footage is the latest development in the children charity’s bid to convince the UK government to tighten up rules that help to reunite refugee children with close family following Brexit.

The Dublin III regulation that currently protects children by ensuring that they are provided a safe passage to close family when moving country to flee war, violence or persecution only applies to the 28 EU member states.

The UK’s rules only currently give a right for children to be reunited with their parents in the UK instead of other close family.

This can lead to refugee kids being forced to make the deadly trip to Europe by fleeing devastating situations by foot, in the back of lorries or crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy dinghies. In 2017 alone, over 3,000 people died making this dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

With new plans for refugee rules being drawn by the government as part of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the quartet are calling on the them to ensure the fix is included in law.

Deputy executive director of Unicef UK, Lily Caprani, said: “Every day the government fails to make a simple change to the rules that could help reunite refugee children with their loved ones, more children continue to risk everything in desperate attempts to reach the safety of their family.

“These children deserve the stability and continuity that their close family can provide.”

It breaks my heart to think that there are children out there – children who have already been through far too much – who are being kept separate from their brothers and sisters

Former Peep Show star and Unicef UK supporter Colman added: “Someone once defined siblings as children of the same parents who are perfectly normal until they get together. It makes me laugh to think about my own brother and sister that way.

“Our experience of growing up, and of having the same parents – so much that is funny, weird, unique and important about who we are and where we came from – is like a kind of secret code between us. Now I have the great pleasure of seeing my own children beginning to develop their secret code, a sense of belonging and security that they will always share with their brothers and sister.

“It breaks my heart to think that there are children out there – children who have already been through far too much – who are being kept separate from their brothers and sisters.  Children for whom that secret sibling code might be the only thing of value that they possess, and all that they need. We must act now to reunite these children and protect their futures!”

A 52,000-strong Unicef petition to fix the law can be signed here.

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