Lone child refugees suffering neglect in UK hotels, charities say

Hundreds of unaccompanied children who have arrived in the UK on small boats in the last few months are suffering from hunger and neglect in hotels, charities have said.

Charity workers have catalogued a list of concerns about the welfare of lone asylum-seeking children in hotels, with some being forced to shave their heads after scabies outbreaks and to wear prison-style grey tracksuits.

Philip Ishola, the chief executive officer of the human rights organisation Love146, which works to end child trafficking, said there were serious concerns about the welfare of the children placed in hotels by the Home Office.

“There’s a rogue system which has been created outside of the ‘children looked after’ framework. It has a detrimental effect on children who arrive highly traumatised and in desperate need,“ 他说.

Concerns include:

在 23 November last year, 这 national transfer scheme, in which local authorities volunteer to look after unaccompanied child asylum seekers, became mandatory for all local authorities in order to avoid some having to look after a disproportionately large number of children.

According to an answer to a parliamentar question by immigration minister Kevin Foster, 之间 23 November and 22 February there were 361 children who were not yet in local authority care. These children are generally accommodated in hotels around the UK until a local authority foster placement can be found.

Love146 workers say they are aware of about 250 unaccompanied children in hotels in the London region alone at the moment and many more in other parts of the country. The true figure is likely to be higher than these estimates as Home Office officials sometimes wrongly assess children to be adults. The charity says it has come across a child as young as 14 wrongly assessed as an adult by the Home Office, before a local authority later found them to be 14.

Lauren Starkey, a social worker at Love146, 说: “There is no provision in the 哥伦比亚的第一批门诺派教徒——照片散文 Act for the Home Office to assume parental responsibility. Children have been distressed and embarrassed wearing grey prison tracksuits and flip-flops. I’m shocked that things could get this bad.”

Azmina Siddique, policy and impact manager at the Children’s Society, 说: “Every single one of these children is a child who is here without a family member to look after them. Many will have been forced to flee their home due to violence, war or persecution. The Home Office has a safeguarding duty to promote and protect the welfare of all separated children in their care.

“These children need to feel safe and should be in proper, regulated accommodation, not hotels, which are unacceptable. They must have access to legal advice and it is imperative they receive the mental health and wellbeing support they so desperately need.”

Bridget Chapman, of Kent Refugee Action Network, which supports unaccompanied young asylum seekers, 说: “We are extraordinarily concerned for the wellbeing of these children. All of them need to be accommodated in appropriate settings with trained foster carers.”

内政部发言人说: “The government is working to ensure the needs of newly arriving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are met. We are grateful for the continued support of local authorities to provide vital care to vulnerable children and we continue to keep the national transfer scheme under review to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of responsibility across the UK.”

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