More than a hundred associations wrote to the British Prime Minister on Thursday asking for an independent investigation into 200 migrants, unaccompanied minors, who disappeared after being accommodated in hotels by the government.
Following an article in the newspaper “The Observer”, Secretary of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick admitted on Tuesday that 440 reports of disappearances of minor migrants had been registered since July 2021 and that “200 children” were still missing. A total of 4,600 unaccompanied minors have been accommodated in hotels since July 2021.
Among the missing minors, 13 are under 16, and only one is a girl. 88% of the young people who have been reported as missing are Albanian, the others being from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey.
More than a hundred associations, including the Refugee Council and The Children’s Society, wrote to the head of government Rishi Sunak to “express their deep concern” about these asylum-seeking children, “targeted by criminal networks and (who) are now at risk of ‘be exploited and suffer other forms of significant harm’.
They demand the “immediate” end of hotel accommodation for these unaccompanied minors, places where they are “not safe”.
“While the Home Office initially labeled the use of hotels for separated children as an ‘emergency’ measure to be implemented for ‘the shortest possible periods’, this measure was maintained for 18 months”, they criticize.
“Nearly two years after the start of this program, which is both illegal and dangerous, it is no longer possible to justify the use of hotels as being ‘temporary'”, condemn the associations.
They demand that “the children be looked after by the social services for children of the local authorities, in accordance with the law and with all the guarantees that this implies”.
They also call for “an urgent independent investigation”.
“It’s a national failure in terms of child protection”, denounces Patricia Durr, president of ECPAT UK, an association which fights against child trafficking. “It is the shocking but inevitable consequence of the practice of the Ministry of the Interior consisting in directly accommodating unaccompanied children outside a legal framework”, he condemns.
The Conservative government has been criticized in recent months for the reception conditions of migrants who are arriving in ever-increasing numbers by the Channel, with overwhelmed accommodation centers. In 2022, more than 45,000 illegal crossings on small boats were recorded, a record.
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