More young refugees in 'dire' poverty

Many young refugees suffer from severe mental health problems
Many young refugees suffer from severe mental health problems

By Oliver Hotham

An "alarming" number of young refugees and migrants are living in serious poverty, according to the Children's Society.

Its report out today on their experiences of destitution cited data indicating that over a third of the young refugees the Children's Society supports are destitute.

Many of these children described suffering from serious illness and severe mental health problems. Several said they were forced to perform sexual acts in return for food.


The report said tough immigration controls had prevented these children from getting support.

"The UK Border Agency and local authorities have a duty to safeguard these children who are no less deserving than any other," Enver Solomon, the society's policy director, said.

"Yet it appears that they are being treated as though they have some kind of second-class status that does not entitle them to the necessary protection and support.

"Often having fled danger in their country of birth, they are exposed to great dangers in this country because they lack a sufficient safety net.

"Far too many are being forced to fend for themselves having slept rough, been victims of violence on the streets, or coerced into sexual relationships with strangers just for a place to stay."

The report recommends that children's rights should be newly protected over immigration control concerns and that the government provide more basic support to young asylum seekers.

Issues of asylum and immigration have been an issue of controversy in recent weeks, with the home secretary's decision to split the UK Border Agency after a scandal over lax passport checks emerged.

But the UK has also been accused of being too strict with asylum seekers. Yesterday the UK Border Agency's policy of detention of torture victims was described as "inhumane" by a UN human rights council representative to Britain.

It has been estimated that there are over a quarter of a million failed asylum seekers remaining in the UK.
 

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