Hundreds of child asylum seekers have gone missing in UK, government admits
CNN —Hundreds of child asylum seekers have gone missing since the British government started housing minors in hotels due to a strain on the country’s asylum accommodation system, British Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday, amid calls for an investigation into the matter.
Jenrick said Tuesday that around 200 children have gone missing since July 2021.
“Out of the 4,600 unaccompanied children that have been accommodated in hotels since July 2021, there have been 440 missing occurrences and 200 children still remain missing,” he said.
Approximately 13 of the 200 missing children are under the age of 16, and one is female according to government data.
The majority of the missing, 88%, are Albanian nationals, and the remaining 12% are from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey.
British charities and migrant rights groups have long complained about the bad conditions in the country’s overwhelmed and underfunded asylum system.
The missing migrant children was first reported in British media on Saturday, when the newspaper The Observer reported that “dozens” of asylum-seeking children were kidnapped by “gangs” from a hotel run by the UK Home Office in Brighton, southern England.
“Many of those who have gone missing are subsequently traced and located,” Jenrick told parliament.
They are being taken from the street 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’ve warned asylum hotels and children’s homes are being targeted by organised criminals.
Ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Secretary, and her decision to run an asylum system based not on compassion, but hostility,” they added.
UK charity the Refugee Council tweeted that they are “deeply concerned by the practice of placing separated children in Home Office accommodation, outside of legal provisions, putting them at risk of harm with over 200 of them having gone missing.”