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Changes sought to help lone child asylum-seekers

28 September 2012

by a staff reporter


Confused and alone: children on their own  fleeing danger need more than just suspicion and disbelief, says the Children's Society. (Photo posed by model)

Confused and alone: children on their own  fleeing danger need more than just suspicion and disbelief, says the Children's Society. (Photo pose...

CHILDREN seeking asylum in the UK on their own face a culture of "disbelief and suspicion" which leaves them frightened and confused, a new report by the Children's Society says. More than 3000 children enter the UK alone each year, fleeing war, violence, and human-rights abuses.

The report, Into the Unknown: Children's journeys through the asylum process, is critical of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for failing to care adequately for children forced to seek asylum. It accuses the UKBA of failing to make sure that children understand what is happening to them during the asylum process.

The Children's Society said that the absence of child-friendly information, together with a widespread culture of disbelief, and disputes over young people's ages, caused confusion and insecurity, and further damaged children already traumatised.

Researchers for the report spoke to 33 young asylum-seekers, aged between 13 and 20 years old, who had travelled to the UK alone. They came from many countries, including Algeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Some of the children interviewed for the report had had no responsible adult to help them in their asylum interviews, and, in some cases, the interpreter had not spoken their dialect or language, leaving the children powerless.

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "The amount of confusion and anxiety expressed by the children we spoke to in the asylum process is very concerning. Although the UKBA has made some progress, there needs to be a fundamental shift in attitude concerning how they work with children fleeing danger who need our help. Instead of getting the care and support they need, these children are considered with suspicion. In some cases they feel like they are being tricked."


Alleged police failures. The Times this week published details of confidential police reports that, it alleges, show that for more than a decade men groomed and trafficked young girls through organised networks that were known to the police, but never subject to prosecution.

The newspaper has published several articles about a pattern of crimes across northern England and the Midlands, involving groups of men, largely of Pakistani heritage, and the sexual abuse of young white girls alleging serious safeguarding failures by the police and other agencies.

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