Commenting on reports that the government is considering the forcible return of unaccompanied Afghan children refused asylum, Refugee Action Chief Executive Dave Garratt said:
“A programme of forcible return of children, against their will, to a country still in the grip of war, would be a traumatic and damaging process which is clearly unacceptable. We compel the UK Border Agency to abandon this proposal.
“Acting in children’s best interests is a value which should never be compromised by immigration status. As required by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we urge the Border Agency to simply recognise that these are children first and asylum seekers second.
“We note that this proposed programme is aimed at 16 and 17 year olds only. This seems an arbitrary distinction, as the concept of being a child until 18 is clearly enshrined in UK law. This programme would be wrong for five year olds, so it is equally wrong for 17 year olds.
“We believe there are fundamental flaws in the way children’s asylum claims are treated in the UK. We encourage the Border Agency to concentrate its efforts in this area, rather than setting up a system that literally places children in harm’s way.”
For more information please contact Julia Ravenscroft, media officer
at Refugee Action, on 0161 831 5454/ 07771 748 159 or
Notes to Editors:
- Today’s Home Office Asylum and Immigration statistical bulletin (Immigration Statistics July-September 2011 – Volume 2)
- The number of children seeking asylum from Afghanistan has dropped by two thirds in the past two years – Table as.08
- One third of these applications are children whose age is disputed, over 100 are aged 13 or under – Table as.10
- Refugee Action is an independent, national charity working to enable refugees to build new lives. We provide practical advice and assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers and long-term commitment to their settlement through community development work, and received 30,000 visits from asylum seekers last year. As one of the country’s leading agencies in the field, Refugee Action has 30 year’ experience in pioneering innovative work in partnership with refugees