The new analysis from the Refugee Council, based on Home Office data, finds that 25,119 of the 45,746 men, women and children who made the journey in 2022 would be allowed to stay in the UK as refugees.
The analysis shows that more than 8,600 children make up these figures, and that the majority of these are fleeing war-torn or oppressive countries where no safe and formal routes such as refugee visas exist for making an asylum claim in the UK.
The report also shows that the Government’s pledge in January 2023 to ‘pass new laws to stop small boats, making sure that if you come to this country illegally, you are detained and swiftly removed’ could remove the right to claim asylum from those crossing on boats. This would lead to thousands of vulnerable children and young people in need of protection living in limbo and potentially being locked up in detention at huge cost of hundreds of millions of pounds to the taxpayer.
In response to the findings, RCPCH President Dr Camilla Kingdon said:
I find it distressing that once again we have evidence of how poorly some of the most vulnerable children in our country are being treated. This report from the Refugee Council is a powerful evaluation of Home Office data that helps us understand the number of children entering the UK in need of our care and protection. The report highlights that the majority of the men, women and children who cross the Channel do so because they are desperate to escape war, conflict and persecution. They have no other option.
The Home Office must remember that if children are entering the UK on what are deemed to be valid asylum-seeking claims, we as members of the UNCRC are required to provide them with healthcare, education, and shelter. We cannot walk away from our responsibility.
If the UK Government is to act on their pledge to deport those arriving on small boats without an opportunity to claim asylum, thousands of vulnerable children will be placed at risk and their rights will be denied. These unfair proposals are just one of the many ways in which we are currently failing these children.
Recently the Home Office admitted that numerous unaccompanied child asylum seekers have gone missing under their watch. The consequences of which could be drastic. The Home Office must do everything within its power to find these children and ensure that all children and young people in their care are safe and well cared for. As a country, we have a duty of care to these children who have fled dangerous situations and entered the UK seeking safety and protection.