How many children refugees will join those already being incorrectly classed as adults by the Home Office’s social workers? How many risk being sent to Rwanda or stuck in camps?
First published: May 2022.
The Home Office has been seen to incorrectly age-assess unaccompanied children refugees as young as 14 as being 23. No matter what they claim, it is inevitable that children separated from families and loved ones will get caught up in their draconian plans to persecute asylum seekers.
The creation of the National Age Assessment Board (NAAB) under the provisions of the Home Office and the implementation of fundamentally flawed and inaccurate “scientific age assessments” is only likely to make the whole situation far, far worse.
We have undeniably seen a dramatic spike in “age disputes”. A significant part of the problem is that, while some are adults posing as children, the Home Office has put immigration enforcement ahead of child protection and is mis-ageing children. That puts them at risk.
Add in the whole horrific plan to send people to Rwanda where they face a multitude of human rights abuses, as well as an increased risk of being targeted by traffickers, along with the newly proposed prison camps for asylum seekers, and the risks to children grow dramatically.
It is all well and good for the Home Office to claim they would never send unaccompanied minors to such places, but when you are repeatedly, incorrectly classing children as adults, it is inevitable that you will end up doing so.
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Does the Home Office think that increasing the inhumanity of the UK’s asylum system will deter children seeking safety? Does Priti Patel think it will stop them from trying to reach family members? Because anyone with half a brain cell knows it won’t.
We are already seeing separated children placed at more risk of trafficking and exploitation because of the Home Office’s policies.
None of the government’s plans put children first. They had the opportunity to put protections in place for children separated from family and loved ones, when Tom Pursglove MP (minister in the Ministry of Justice and Home Office) shot the proposals down because they might hypothetically need care and support in the future.
That is what we are dealing with here, a government which has more interest in allowing vulnerable children to be targeted by traffickers than actually tackling the traffickers.
That is why we need organisations and individuals standing up for children and ensuring they are protected. This is what organisations like Love146 are fighting against. Working with children, seeing first-hand the impact of incorrect age assessments, and using that knowledge to campaign for better child protection.
Support Love146 today if you can, simply click here. Your donation can mean there is a happier ending to the journey for more children.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.
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- Text: This piece was first published as two Twitter threads and turned into the above article on 11 May 2022 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/UK Home Office. - Home Sec. Priti Patel in Rwanda. | 14 April 2022. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)