The immigration minister, James Brokenshire MP, has today corrected his response to a parliamentary question from late October. The corrected figures show that, since 2007, some 3,750 former unaccompanied asylum seeking children were removed from the UK to Afghanistan, Albania, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The new figure is more than double the originally stated total of 1,616.
Our Principles to Practice project manager, Helen Johnson, has said:
"Before a decision was made about the future of each of these individual young people, a thorough assessment of their best interests should have been conducted and a holistic decision taken about where they should be supported and protected in future. However, our research report ‘Put Yourself in our Shoes’ demonstrates failings in the system and a lack of clarity among a range of professionals about how to ensure that the best interests of these children are identified and then acted upon.
Each of the 3,750 young people deported has lived in the UK as a child, some of them for several years, and had hoped to remain here safely alongside their school and college friends to pursue their hopes and dreams. Each was removed back to a place they had fled from, despite the majority facing a lack of safety and opportunity on return.
Until we are serious about upholding the best interests of children who arrive on our shores seeking protection, thousands more will fear their 18th birthday. Instead of being a time for celebration and tentatively taking steps in the challenging world of adulthood, this occasion brings with it the loss of all support and the wait for a knock on the door and a drive to the airport."