Family of Yemeni asylum seekers allowed to stay together in UK after U-turn

Three sons had been detained by the Home Office and told they would be taken to Spain

A family of asylum seekers from Yemen can remain together in Britain, after they won a reprieve from the Home Office.

Under new post-Brexit plans, following the UK's departure from the EU, Home Secretary Priti Patel had announced that anyone arriving in Britain seeking asylum should be returned to the first safe country they entered from.

The Yemeni father arrived by a flight from a Gulf state, after he obtained a visitor visa, and claimed asylum.

His three sons, Hamzeh, 26, Hassan, 24, and Hazem, 22, made an overland journey that took almost a year, culminating in a hazardous boat trip across the English Channel last year using people smugglers.

“I felt so worried about their survival all the time and I felt so guilty that my journey was so much easier than theirs,” said their father Hussein, 52.

The family asked to be referred to by their first names only.

The four were finally reunited and housed together in Manchester by the Home Office. The family began learning English through a scheme set up by the Prince's Trust charity for young people and were volunteering for FairShare, a charity giving food to the poor.

But shortly afterwards, the three sons were detained by the Home Office and told they would be taken to Spain, a country deemed safe that they had travelled through on their route to Britain.

However, in the past week the Home Office changed its decision, determining that the family's case will be heard together.

The outcome of the case is expected in the coming months but lawyers have warned that if the application fails then the family will be returned to Yemen.

"My clients are Yemeni nationals and so the Home Office will consider their asylum claims based on their risk on return to Yemen," their solicitor Hannah Baynes told The National.

“I am pleased that there will now be progress in our clients’ asylum claims, which had previously been put on hold while the Home Office sought to return our clients to Spain.”

The Home Office told her firm, Duncan Lewis Solicitors, that the decision had been made “due to their individual circumstances".

Ms Baynes welcomed the decision not to break up the family.

“This is absolutely right because it keeps families together who've been through difficult circumstances,” she said.

“We very much welcome the fact that their asylum cases are now going on in the same country as their father.”

There is a suggestion that the Home Office did not extradite the sons due to coronavirus travel restrictions before the end of the Brexit transition period in January.

"It is an established principle that those in need of protection should seek asylum in the first safe country that they enter and not put their lives at risk by making unnecessary and dangerous onward journeys to the UK," a Home Office official said.

“Our new plan for immigration will overhaul our asylum system and make such claims inadmissible.”