hundreds of children Refugees British Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday, amid calls for an investigation into the matter.
Jenrick said on Tuesday that about 200 children have gone missing since July 2021. “Of the 4,600 unaccompanied children who have stayed in hotels since July 2021, there have been 440 disappearances. and 200 children are still missing,” he said.
About 13 of the 200 missing children are under 16 and one is female, according to government data. The majority of those missing, 88%, are Albanian nationals, and the remaining 12% are from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey.
Jenrick blames the problem on an increase in the number of migrant boats crossing the English Channel to the UK, leaving the government “with no choice” but to use “specialist hotels” to accepting minors as of July 2021.
While the use of contract hotels is seen as a temporary solution, as of October there were still four operating hotels with more than 200 rooms for migrant children, according to a report from the Chief Inspector. Border and Independent Immigration.
Charities and migrant rights groups in the UK have long complained about poor conditions in the country’s overburdened and underfunded asylum system.
The number of asylum applications processed in the UK has dropped in recent years, leaving people in limbo for months and years – trapped in processing facilities or makeshift hotels. time and inability to work – and promote a life confusing debate on the British border.
The missing migrant children first made headlines in the British media on Saturday, when The Observer reported that “dozens” of children seeking asylum had been kidnapped by “gangs” from a hotel operated by the UK Home Office in Brighton, southern England.
Since then, the opposition Labor Party, human rights organization Refugee Council, as well as local authorities have demanded urgent action.
The Home Office has called those reports untrue, and in a statement to CNN, a Home Office spokesman said: “The well-being of the children in our care is a top priority. .”
The spokesperson added that they had “strong protective procedures in place” and that “when a child goes missing, local authorities work closely with agencies, including the police, to urgently determine their whereabouts.”
While the UK government does not have the power to detain unaccompanied minors who are free to leave the hotel, Jenrick defended the UK Home Office’s safety safeguards saying that the Records are kept and monitored on children leaving and returning to the hotel and support staff are working with children on social outings and activities.
Jenrick told parliament: “Many of those missing were subsequently traced and located.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, of the opposition Labor Party, blamed traffickers in her answer to parliament that “children were actually picked up from outside the building, disappeared and not found. They are being taken from the streets by traffickers.”
Cooper said “urgent and serious action” is needed to crack down on gangs to keep children and young people safe.
“We know from Greater Manchester Police they have warned refugee hotels and children’s homes are being targeted by organized crime. And in this case, there’s a pattern here where the gangs know where to go to get the children, often likely because they trafficked them here in the first place,” she added. “There is a criminal network involved. The government completely failed to stop them.”
On Monday, the UK charity Refugee Action said it was “disgraceful that children who come to this country to ask for safety are being harmed. They added: “The ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Secretary and her decision to run an asylum system based not on compassion but on hostility.”
UK charity the Refugee Council tweeted that it was “deeply concerned about the placement of quarantined children in Home Office accommodation, outside the scope of the law, causing They are at risk with over 200 children already missing.”