Thousands of young people who sought refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum-seekers have been deported to repressive regimes and countries partly controlled by Isis and the Taliban, the Home Office has admitted. Over the past nine years 2,748 young people – many of whom had spent formative years in the UK, forging friendships and going to school – have been returned to countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.
It raises serious concerns about what happens to child asylum-seekers when they turn 18, and at a time when Britain is being urged to help thousands of orphaned child refugees from Syria. Unaccompanied child asylum-seekers arriving in the UK are given temporary leave to remain. But this expires when they become adults, at which point many are sent back to their home country – even if they have taken GCSEs and A-levels, integrated into British society and lost touch with their homeland. They often struggle to start new lives, because their Westernised mannerisms mean they are regarded with suspicion.
Labour MP Louise Haigh observed “These shocking figures reveal the shameful reality behind our asylum system. Children who flee countries ravaged by war in the most appalling of circumstances are granted safe haven and build a life here in the UK, but at the age of 18 can be forced on to a flight and back to a dangerous country they have no links to and barely any memory of. With many more vulnerable young children due to arrive in the UK over the next five years the Government needs to answer serious questions and provide a cast-iron guarantee that vulnerable young people will not be sent back to war zones.”
Meanwhile, US presidential candidate and demagogue, Donald Trump, says he has “absolutely no problem” with “looking Syrian children in the face” and telling them to leave. “I can look in their face and tell them they can’t come here,” because their parents “…may be Syrian, they may be ISIS, may be ISIS-related,” Trump responded to enthusiastic applause from his xenophobic supporters.