Religious leaders in the UK have urged the government to ease rules over immigration to allow refugees to be reunited with the families already living in the country.

The open letter signed by leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faiths, says that the close relatives of Britons and refugees already in the country should be allowed in. The letter says the government needs to revise its policy to help refugees fleeing Iraq, Syria and other areas of conflict.

"Under the present immigration rules, a British doctor of Syrian origin could not bring her parents from a refugee camp in Lebanon - even though they were refugees and she could support and house them."

Around 220 children are said to be legally allowed to be reunited with families in the UK but so far, only 50 have been allowed to enter.

A campaign spearheaded by Kindertransport, which rescued Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe in World War Two, has raised more than £50,000 to help children in the Jungle camp of Calais.

Calais' unaccompanied children
Children watch an Indian film on television in the Jungle camp of Calais. Faith leaders have called on the UK government to act to allow unaccompanied children to come to the uK to be reunited with their families Mary Turner/Getty

The letter's signatories are headed by the former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who will describe its demands in a speech on Monday 12 September to faith leaders and refugees.

Williams told The Guardian that allowing relatives of refugees already in Britain to join them would be a practical way to respond to "the pressure of the human suffering we see".

"People admitted as family members are guaranteed a ready-made network, a human support system here – so that we are not talking about an influx of rootless or alienated individuals, vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation," he told the paper.

Chief executive of Liberal Judaism Rabbi Danny Rich told the BBC: "We are asking the government to show compassion and also some common sense because if you have half a refugee family here they can't be as well settled, as well absorbed, as if they were a full family."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the UK has been at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

In a statement, it said: "We are also in active discussions with the UNHCR, other partner organisations and the Italian, Greek and French governments to strengthen and speed up mechanisms to identify, assess and transfer unaccompanied refugee children to the UK where this in their best interests."