HC Deb 25 January 1994 vol 236 c166W
Sir Ivan Lawrence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the concessionary policy operated by his Department to facilitate family reunion for Somali nationals resident in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle

The Somali family reunion concession was introduced to make it easier for those Somalis with relatives in the United Kingdom who had been displaced to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Djibouti to seek entry clearance to the United Kingdom. It took account of the fact that fighting in both Somalia and Ethiopia at that time had made it difficult to travel to any British diplomatic post in the area in order to apply for entry clearance.

The concession allowed the United Kingdom sponsor to seek advice in advance from the Home Office on whether his or her relatives seemed likely to qualify for a visa if they made a formal application at their nearest post. It thus reduced—usually to one—the number of journeys they needed to make to the post in order to pursue their application.

The concession had its origins in a period when both Somalia and Ethiopia were torn by civil war and any movement by civilians in the area was potentially hazardous. The situation in Somalia itself remains grave, but over 95 per cent. of cases now raised under the concession concern people who are in Ethiopia. That country has been at peace for nearly three years now, and the evidence is that Somali nationals in Ethiopia can move about safely there. People in Somalia itself are able to move into Ethiopia, Kenya or Djibouti if they wish. In these circumstances it is open to applicants to seek entry clearance at our posts in Addis Ababa, Nairobi of Djibouti in the normal way. I have therefore decided that the concession should be withdrawn with effect from midnight on 27 January 1994.

This decision applies to new cases only. All cases which have already been raised with us under the concession, including any received between now and 27 January 1994, will be considered under the existing arrangements.