Charities are extremely concerned for the wellbeing of children seeking asylum in the U.K. after the government revealed that 45 unaccompanied minors disappeared in just 10 months.
Campaigners are calling for clarity over how these children, many of whom are being housed in hotels, are being safeguarded from trafficking and exploitation.
Concerns over child trafficking
Children as young as 11 are going missing from accommodation assigned to them by the Home Office.
The disappearance rate is alarmingly high, at around one child per week, according to data obtained from the government by Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (Ecpat) charity and the Independent.
Quoted in The Independent, an open letter signed by 60 charities reads:
“Our concern for these children cannot be overstated. Already vulnerable, separated and traumatised, isolated from family support networks, they are at the greatest risk of exploitation and trafficking. Some may have already been trafficked and are at significant risk of being re-trafficked. They need – and are entitled to – care in supportive foster or residential homes, with skilled professionals to help them recover in safety.”
Are hotels appropriate accommodation for unaccompanied children?
As of late June, 355 unaccompanied children between 11 and 18 were being housed by the Home Office in hotels. Charities have warned of the inadequacy of these facilities for proper safeguarding of children who are already extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
A report from UN Refugee Agency and British Red Cross found evidence of “visible, large-scale accommodation in hostels, hotels and houses of multiple occupancy being targeted by traffickers.”
Home Affairs Committee Chair Dame Diana Johnson has called on the government to “confirm urgently who is responsible for safeguarding these children and tell us what they are doing to prevent children, alone and potentially vulnerable, simply vanishing from sight into unknown hands and unknown futures.”
Call on the government to protect people on the move from exploitation
The disappearance of unaccompanied children from Home Office accommodation is yet another example of how the U.K. government’s hostile environment policies are putting children and adults in danger of trafficking and exploitation.
Join us in calling on the U.K. and other governments around the world to prioritize human rights when developing migration and asylum policies. We need your voice to ensure more children don’t fall into the hands of traffickers due to the government’s failure to uphold their duty of care. Sign the petition today.