Friday, 1 February 2008

Vulnerable children to be forced home??

A story in the Independent today says the Home Office is talking about forcibly deporting asylum seekers who are under 18.

In other words, forcibly putting children on planes to go back to war zones.

We are not talking about a family group here - but children who are on their own. One of the most vulerable groups there can be.

I am at a loss as to why the government is looking at this. Unaccompanied refugee minors are a tiny proportion of those seeking asylum.

I remember when I worked at the Refugee Council the very special needs and very difficult problems faced by some of this small group.

I've pasted below some comments from the story in the Independent.

Let's hope the Government thinks again about this

But Lisa Nandy, policy adviser for the Children's Society, warned: "This will cause great distress and suffering to many who have fled torture, war and poverty and runs contrary to the Government's aspiration to keep these children safe."

Dame Mary Marsh, chief executive of the children's charity, the NSPCC, said: "The Government appears to be turning its back on children who have been separated from their families and who may have suffered trauma or persecution."

She added: "The majority of these children will be alone, frightened and unable to speak English and therefore powerless to explain why their safety depends on remaining in the UK. Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "The Government should not try to force any child to return against their wishes where their safety and welfare cannot be guaranteed. These are not children who come here seeking a better life, with their families waiting for them in peaceful homes. Many of them are children from war zones."

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