As we reveal this week, of the 40 or so Jews left in Yemen, six members of the same family are seeking help to come to north London, to reunite with an immediate family member, a woman, who has been granted settled status in the UK.
To apply, they first need to get here – easier said than done. The office in Yemen where they would have applied for a transit visa is closed owing to the fighting. There are other ways, but it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. Leaders in Stamford Hill – where the woman is based – say there is a legal route through the quagmire, if only there were political will to see it done.
Privately, several community leaders have been frustrated by what they see as a lack of action and proactivity from Brandon Lewis, who was immigration minister until Theresa May’s reshuffle this month. He is now Tory party chairman. The new minister, Caroline Nokes, is seen as someone who may make things happen.
It cannot come soon enough. The situation in Yemen is increasingly desperate. The Houthis, a Shia sect from the north that is backed by Iran and hostile to Yemen’s tiny Jewish population, has all but taken power in the country.
The family in question has fled the capital, Sana’a, which the Houthis now control, to a small town once known for its flourishing Jewish market before waves of Jews left for the new state of Israel. They need a way out.
Let’s hope that Nokes, who has been a friend of the community for many years now, has the wherewithal to address this increasingly urgent need and save some of Yemen’s last Jews.
What an addition to London’s melting pot they would be.