Lone children seeking asylum going missing in U.K. at risk of exploitation - FreedomUnited.org

Lone children seeking asylum going missing in U.K. at risk of exploitation

  • Published on
    January 12, 2022
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Child Slavery
Hero Banner

Data collected in an investigation by the Independent has exposed that 20 lone children seeking asylum went missing from government hotels between July and December last year – an alarming rate of one per week. Half of these children are still missing.

Children going missing vulnerable to exploitation

Advocates fear that children leaving government accommodation may be facing pressure from traffickers to pay off “debts” they incurred from traveling to the UK. Elaine Ortiz, founder of youth refugee charity Hummingbird Refugee Project explained:

“We saw the level of exploitation of the children and young people in Calais by smugglers and gangs. We also heard about harassment and violence towards young people by gang members in order to pay their ‘debts’. I believe that this may contribute to reasons why children go missing in the UK.”

“Unacceptable” accommodation

Children arriving to the U.K. alone began to be housed in hotel accommodation in July 2021, a measure that was intended to be temporary though children continue to be housed in this way. Ofsted, a government department inspecting services that care for children and young people, described the conditions of the accommodation as “unacceptable”. The Refugee Council also deemed the long-term use of this accommodation for lone children as inappropriate.

Home Office fails to take responsibility

Though the Home Office has claimed that children are cared for by care workers, the lack of clarity around who is responsible for the wellbeing of unaccompanied children is unacceptable and driving children’s vulnerability to exploitation. The Home Office claims the local authority in which children are residing is responsible for them, while local authorities told the Independent that they believed the Home Office is responsible.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action an organization working to defend the rights of people in immigration detention, told the Independent:

“After surviving unimaginable dangers to journey here, these children should finally have felt safe and protected. Instead, Priti Patel, the home secretary, has ignored all warnings that these hotels were inappropriate for children and must now take action to find these missing children before it’s too late.”

Freedom United is calling on the U.K. to support trafficked children in the U.K. by establishing a process to find a long-term, sustainable arrangement for each child victim of trafficking, including providing each child with an immigration decision that is based on their best interests.

Join the campaign today.

Subscribe

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Passing of CSDDD blocked – human rights in danger

What could have been a day to celebrate, has turned into a day full of disappointment. On February 28, 2024, the European Council blocked the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) after the vote had been postponed due to insufficient support, as reported by Reuters. Thirteen out of the 27 member states voted against the law or abstained from the vote, leaving the ‘qualified majority' of 15 countries short of one. A timeline of

| Wednesday February 28, 2024

Read more