child migrants arriving to uk

Child Migrants to be Transferred to Other Councils Upon Arrival in Kent

Kent County Council Revealed it Faces ‘Critical Situation’ Over Number of Child Migrants Arriving

It has been revealed that around 19 unaccompanied child migrants who are seeking asylum in the UK are to be transferred to other councils after having arrived in Kent.

For the first time in over two years, Kent County Council will be passing child migrants into the care of other councils across the country as it faces a ‘critical situation’ with regards to the number of children seeking asylum.

While the Home Office no longer discloses the amount of unaccompanied child migrants arriving to Kent via boat, it seems reasonable to assume that the situation has escalated. This paints a tragic picture of what asylum seekers are currently experiencing and their desperation to find safety for their children.

Kent County Council has in fact disclosed that its reception centres for young migrants were “breaking at the seams”. As a result, several local authorities have stepped forward, pledging to take on the responsibility of around 90 child migrants who are currently seeking asylum.

It is not confirmed whether the Covid-19 crisis is playing a significant role in the rise in child migrants arriving to the UK however many charities and campaigners have warned since the beginning of the infectious disease outbreak that it would have detrimental repercussions for all asylum seekers across Europe.

Channel crossings have increased with lockdown and travel restrictions believed to have influenced this, as asylum seekers who wish to reach the UK are resorting to travelling by boat as other forms of transportation have been limited or stopped entirely.

Since conditions in makeshift refugee camps across Europe have inevitably worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers have made clear that these vulnerable individuals have nothing to lose and so will often take the risks involved in reaching the UK

In May, Roger Gough stated that the number of young asylum seekers in Kent had doubled in little more than a year. He similarly believes that the decline in lorries crossing the Channel due to the pandemic has caused a rise in children arriving in dinghies.

The number of child migrants arriving to the UK to claim asylum has rocketed.
[Image: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters, The Guardian]

Regrettably, there are fears that this hike in child migrants arriving to the UK may also be the result of human trafficking, with organised crime groups exploiting unaccompanied children by bringing them to the UK for the purposes of modern slavery or sexual slavery.

The government often fails to address the root of the issue as it seemingly focuses more on tackling human traffickers than it does creating safe passages for asylum seekers

Since conditions in makeshift refugee camps across Europe have inevitably worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers have made clear that these vulnerable individuals – including young children – have nothing to lose and so will often take the risks involved in reaching the UK.

When questioned by the BBC, a Home Office spokesperson stated: “The government takes the welfare of unaccompanied children very seriously and provides funding to local authorities, including Kent, as a contribution to the cost of supporting unaccompanied children and those who leave care” while working to bring an end to “ruthless criminal gangs [which] put people’s lives in grave danger”.

However, the government often fails to address the root of the issue as it seemingly focuses more on tackling human traffickers than it does creating safe passages for asylum seekers. Until the government introduces safe, legal passages for those seeking asylum, those in precarious, life-threatening circumstances are forced to undergo dangerous routes to the UK – including relying on trafficking gangs.

A shift in priorities is essential if the government genuinely wishes to protect child migrants and all asylum seekers arriving to the UK.

Written by
Holly Barrow
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