UP TO 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children are being left in a legal limbo because agencies are failing to plan for their long-term needs, a new report from the Children’s Society says.
Agencies dealing with the children, who end up alone in the UK after they have become separated from their families, focus on their immediate needs; this means that when that they reach adulthood and their asylum status is unresolved, many of them face destitution and deportation.
The report, Not Just a Temporary Fix: The search for durable solutions for separated migrant children, is calling on the Government to introduce reforms that will ensure that all departments and agencies that have contact with separated children agree on a longer-term outcome for each child.
Separated children who arrive in the UK are frequently granted temporary leave to remain, which lasts until they are 17-and-a-half. Once this has expired, if the child’s asylum case has not been reviewed, then they are left in a legal limbo, which prevents their continuing education or accessing financial support.
The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, said: “This group of children is among the most vulnerable in the country, yet they are left with no sense of what will happen to them as they reach the brink of adulthood. It is crucial that the Government helps children who are in the UK on their own over the long-term. The authorities need to make sure children have the stability necessary so they can develop, thrive, and have the best possible chance in life.”
The Society is also calling on the Government to allow separated children who have been recognised as refugees to act as sponsors for members of their families to come to the UK.