Over the last two weeks there have been 8,458 people evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK According to the Ministry of Defence, since 13 August. One of the significant groups of people are unaccompanied child refugees. The strong call from a number of charities is for these young people to be housed in “safe and supportive” accommodation instead of hotels and for them the supported by independent guardians. As this article by Fiona Simpson on 24th August explains, a number of charities are calling for stronger support for the unaccompanied children. The Home Office is currently responsible for scores of unaccompanied minors who have fled Afghanistan following a Taliban resurgence. Last week Priti Patel announced that the UK would welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees over three years including 5,000 women and children this year. That would appear to be a very strange call in the light of the nearly 9,000 people in the last fortnight and one could imagine the first 12,000-15,000 by the end of the departure from Afghanistan by the 31st August.
There are several charities including The Children’s Society that have accused the government of
letting down children; denying them basic needs; We are extremely concerned about the situation facing young refugees in the UK. The situation in Afghanistan shows once again how important it is for us to help those who need protection; The Home Office has a safeguarding duty to promote and protect the welfare of all separated children in their care. But we know many of these children are being let down and put at risk – being placed in hotels and denied basic needs; It is imperative children housed in hotels are moved as quickly as possible into safe and supportive accommodation. The Home Office and local authorities must make sure children receive the appropriate support and care they are entitled to by law.
This comes following the death of five-year-old Mohammed Munib Majeedi who fell from a ninth-floor window of a hotel in Sheffield where he was staying with his family just 15 days after arriving in the UK from Afghanistan. The Children’s Society, led by its youth-led commission for separated children, is also campaigning for independent legal guardians to be given to all separated children. Next month, the placement of children under-16 in the care of local authorities in unregulated accommodation, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs, will be banned following a Department for Education consultation. In July, a coalition of 70 charities wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson criticising the use of such accommodation for child refugees.