Refugee parents have been successfully reunited with their baby daughter following an operation involving Migrant Help, the Home Office, Border Force, the Croydon and French Children’s Services, and the French Family Court.   

The Iraqi couple fled their home country in January when their daughter was nine months old. The mother was pregnant with their second child. Her husband said extremists had made threats to their lives. 

The family paid traffickers to get them via Iran, Turkey and Greece to Calais, where they paid extra to cross the Channel. They spent a month in ‘the Jungle’ waiting for transportation to be arranged.   

In March, the agent put the family on a lorry while the driver was asleep but he was worried that the baby would cry and alert the driver. The agent decided that the baby could not go and that she would be sent with another family. He demanded that the child be handed over and threatened the parents. They were terrified and, aware that the traffickers were armed and fearing for their lives, they obeyed.    

Once in the UK, the wife claimed asylum, but her husband was trying frantically to make arrangements so that they could be reunited with their daughter. He begged the agent to give her to an organisation such as the Red Cross, then handed himself to the police and told them about his ordeal.

The couple were reunited at initial accommodation in London. Migrant Help’s team liaised with the Home Office and other agencies to find out the whereabouts of the child. The International Federation for Iraqi Refugees also gave assistance. We continued to give the parents support, reassurance and updates on their daughter until, after weeks of legal wrangling in the French family courts, permission was granted for the child to be brought to the UK.   

On 10 May, the day the child arrived in London, the parents appeared at the High Court of Justice where Croydon Council sought an Interim Care Order for her. Two Migrant Help managers were with the Home Office and Border Agency officials at St Pancras railway station for the child’s arrival from France. A few days later, the parents were reunited with their daughter and were granted custody at the end of May.     

Once in our care, the family was offered support and advice, and the opportunity to re-bond successfully with their daughter.  

The family is now in Liverpool and recently celebrated the arrival of a baby boy. 

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