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UK's Nationality and Borders Bill could see over 17,000 women, child refugees prevented from reuniting with families

Demonstrators gather for a march calling for the British parliament to welcome refugees in the UK in central London on 17 September 2016. [DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images]
Demonstrators gather for a march calling for the British parliament to welcome refugees in the UK in central London on 17 September 2016. [DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Home Office's new immigration rules could see over 17,000 mainly women and child refugees prevented from reuniting with family members in the UK in the next five years, according to the Refugee Council.

CEO of the Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, has told the Guardian that under the Nationality and Borders Bill the government seeks to limit family reunification by restricting the reunification right for people who have arrived in the UK if they have travelled through a safe third country.

Often, male refugees make the journey across several countries to arrive in the UK and be granted protection so that their partners and children can then fly to join them and avoid the harrowing journey.

Solomon has told the Guardian that under the new rules thousands of women and children would have no choice but to make the dangerous journey across several countries, deserts, and the English Channel to join their loved ones.

The bill, which has been approved by the House of Commons and is now being considered by the House of Lords, has been slammed by expert immigration lawyers as unconstitutional.

READ: Military to be given responsibility for Channel crossings

If passed, the bill will make it a criminal offence for people to arrive "illegally" in the country, for example by crossing the English Channel.

It will also give more power to the Border Force to stop and redirect boats and to use offshore processing emulating the Australian system, with Rwanda being suggested as one such location.

Human rights groups and charities have repeatedly called on the British government to provide safer routes for refugees so that they are not forced to take the dangerous journey across the sea that separates England from France.

In November last year 27 people drowned whilst trying to make the crossing including three children and a pregnant woman, after their inflatable dinghy collapsed.

One of the passengers who died was a 24-year-old Kurdish student who was hoping to be reunited with her fiancé in the UK, and another was 25-year-old Harem Pirot whose brother lives in Cambridge.

At the time this raised questions about why they were forced to take the journey across the Channel to reunite with their families.

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