Social Justice

I lost 200 members of my family to war in Gaza. I feel betrayed by the UK government

Rami, a British Citizen, pleaded with the UK government to get his family out of Gaza. But they said there was nothing they could do. He feels betrayed

gaza/ palestine

Palestinians are fighting for survival, and their family in the UK are calling on the government to act. Image: Unsplash

As campaigners call on the government to implement a Ukraine-style family visa scheme for Palestinians affected by war, Rami shares his family’s story and why it is so vital the UK government steps up to reunite British residents with their families who face war in Gaza.

I’m British Palestinian. I first moved to the UK in 2010 to do a master’s and I’ve been living in Scotland for five years. I have 12 immediate family members. My parents, siblings and their kids lived in Gaza but the war was really tough for them, so they decided to move to Rafah. 

A few days after the move to our house was targeted. They were fortunate to leave just before. Between Christmas and New Year, I lost 200 members of my extended family in separate incidents. 

It’s not easy to comprehend that my family members have lost their lives while at the same time I see politicians on TV resisting the call for a permanent ceasefire.

My family have all lost weight. Mentally, it’s exhausting for them. It was very difficult not having access to clean water or hygiene or health services. My sister has a one-year-old baby and she struggled to get the proper vaccine for the baby. Life was a struggle.

I needed to do something. As a British citizen, I tried to see if the British government could do something similar to what they did with British Ukrainians. We were shocked by the response. We feel betrayed. It made us question why we are in this country. We have been living here and paying taxes, but we’re not treated like other citizens.

Sign the petition for a Palestinian family visa scheme here.

I have been trying to talk to the embassy in Cairo and ask them just to help us to get them out. They refused as well to help us. So then I had no choice. 

I had to go to Egypt with a huge sums of money to pay an agency. They charge $5,000 for adults and $2,500 per child. I’m fortunate that I have really good friends and family around me so they helped me.

I paid the money and after a month or so, my family are in Cairo, but that’s just the start of the journey for them. They are considered illegal immigrants now they’re in Egypt. They don’t have any proper documents or anything.

They need to recover. They need to adjust to the new norm and figure out what to do next. They cannot just stay there in Egypt. But for now, they are safe.

So far, the UK government’s response has been shocking. We’re dismayed and we’re not sure what’s going to happen next. I’d love to have my parents here, at least. There’s a campaign for a Ukraine-style family visa scheme. I’d like to see this.

Infrastructure and houses have been demolished in Gaza. Even if the war stopped today, people have nowhere to go. We need to find somewhere for my family to stay at least for some time until we manage to rebuild our house.

I feel guilty that I don’t have more money to help more people. I still have uncles, aunties, cousins and really good friends in Rafah. I’m really worried about them. I’m in touch with them every day trying to see what they are up to. That’s why we will continue calling for a ceasefire, because that’s the only way to make sure that they are safe.

It has been six months now. They have accepted their fate. They just live day by day. They don’t really think about tomorrow, because they are now only in survival mode.

Sign the petition for a Palestinian family visa scheme here.

Response from the Home Office to calls for a Ukraine-style family visa scheme for Palestinians

A spokesperson from the Home Office said: “We are working around the clock to get British Nationals who want to leave out of Gaza. We have a team on the ground in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing providing consular assistance.

“We currently have no plans to establish a separate route for Palestinians to come to the UK. However, any dependants of British citizens who need a visa can apply for one.”

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