CoramBAAF supports migrant children's rights
CoramBAAF signed a letter sent last month to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, expressing concerns over the Government’s handling of newly arrived migrant children. Over 65 charities supported the letter, which criticises the Department for Education’s authorisation for the Home Office to place asylum-seeking children in Kent in minimally supported hotel accommodation. The letter urges him to ensure that these vulnerable children are given the care they are entitled to by law.
Kent County Council stopped taking unaccompanied migrant children into its care in June due to ‘extreme pressure’ on its services. Vulnerable unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Kent are now being held in inappropriate short-term holding facilities (the Kent Intake Unit) and hotels, with very limited adult supervision. This is despite the DfE introducing new legislation, which comes into force this autumn, making it unlawful for local authorities to place children of this age who are in care in this type of accommodation.
Unaccompanied children arriving in the UK have had to flee persecution and human rights abuses, their journeys are arduous and they should be looked after in a place where they can begin to feel safe. The Home Office’s continued holding of children either in the Kent Intake Unit or in contingency accommodation not only breaches its child welfare obligations under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, it could also amount to unlawful deprivation of liberty and a breach of the Children Act 1989.
Children’s charities have been raising concerns since the start of 2021 about the urgent need for reforms to the National Transfer Scheme to remove barriers to children being cared for out of Kent whilst ensuring that moves only take place when in the child’s best interests. Although the number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the UK is lower than in 2020, the situation for children arriving has worsened, although we are mindful of the huge financial pressures that local authorities are dealing with.
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