UK Home Office allegations of cramming children of asylum seekers into the same rooms with adults and strangers

Ibrahim Darwish

London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”:

The Independent newspaper published an exclusive report on the UK Home Office putting children and adults in one room and forcing them to sleep together in immigrant hotels, not transferring them to children’s centers until after charities raised concerns have about the policies of Boris Johnson’s government.

May Pullman, social affairs correspondent for the newspaper, said migrant children were forced to sleep in rooms and even beds with adults they did not know after placing large numbers of them in housing intended for adults over the age of 18. In recent months, hundreds of children and young girls of asylum seekers who arrived in Britain unaccompanied have been housed in hotels prepared for adults, raising the fear of many of them to get out of their rooms and a prompted number to consider suicide and the escape of others. .

In the case of a 16-year-old Ethiopian asylum seeker, she was raped several times during her trip to Britain and placed in a unisex hotel, after Home Office officials estimated her age at 23. In another case, a 17-year-old minor was forced to share a bed with an adult man.
He accused ministers of washing their hands of asylum-seeking children by applying an age assessment process that categorized them as adults and leaving it to local authorities to “stitch” those they tore apart and send them to childcare centers to take after discovering the error. The children were forced to share rooms with strangers for several weeks or months before they had a chance to contact charities who would take them to childcare centres, where they would be assessed for age and classified as minors. “The Home Office is putting children in adult hotels all over the country and has completely washed its hands of them,” said Maddy Harris of the Human Rights Network. They expect them to contact an organization like ours and for the local authorities to do something for them.”

She said her charity had supported 73 children in the past seven months, who she said were children under the age of 18 who had been wrongly placed in adult housing. The majority of them are now in the care of local authorities after the charity turned them into lawyers, but the process takes weeks. Harris added that those whose names were misjudged were forced to live with strangers, including a child who was forced to sleep in a double bed with a man he did not know. Clear Shearings, which operates the hotel, declined to comment. The Ministry of Home Affairs did not deny the process of room sharing.

Hanna Marwood of the “Carefour Calais” association said that it had discovered 421 cases related to age estimation since 2020, and “with a relative increase” during recent months. “Usually they were scared and confused,” she said, and in some cases fled. The majority were transferred to nursing homes after the association’s intervention. And he told someone who estimated his age that he was an adult after arriving in the north of England, although he was 17 years old, and he said he was terrified. The minor was transferred after the intervention of the “Kirdesh Umbrella” charity: “I was the only child in the hotel and everyone was between 30-50 years old, and I was afraid to leave the room. The adults got drunk at night, shouting and screaming.”

According to the text message sent to the charity, “I’m in the hotel, everyone’s older than me, they’re all smoking, and I’m scared.” these people”. A 16-year-old Ethiopian asylum seeker said she was placed in a mixed hotel. In October, the Ministry of the Interior considered her to be 23 years old. And she contacted a charity called “Daro Youth” some time ago, where she revealed that she was raped several times on her trip to Britain. The charity has handed it over to the local council, as it will be handed over from the hotel this week. “My concern has increased that no steps have been taken to protect a woman who said she is a child and may be a victim of human trafficking and sexual violence by adult men and at risk of exploitation,” says Benny Hanner, the association’s coordinator.

After crossing the English Channel, asylum seekers are subjected to a rapid age assessment process by social workers appointed by the Home Office or by border officials. If their age is estimated to be over 18, they are transferred to adult residences, which are usually hotels. And if they are estimated to be children, they are sent to childcare centers or hotels designated for them. The legal firm Installo has launched a legal challenge over the way refugees are estimated. The law firm argues that the estimation of ages is done without protection.

The company’s Martin Bridge said he was representing a number of young people who had been placed in hotels and transferred to care centers following the legal challenge after confirming they were children. He referred to the case of a 14-year-old child, but his age was estimated by the Ministry of the Interior to be 25, and after legal intervention, his real age was confirmed. Home Secretary Priti Patel said last week that asylum seekers were “flagrantly breaching” the asylum system by claiming to be children and announced new “scientific” methods to determine the age of arrivals. She said that the ministry’s data confirms that 66% of those who claim to be children are in fact adults.

Enver Solomon, director of the Refugee Council, said the figures provided by the minister did not take into account the “alarming” numbers of people the interior ministry considered old and then revealed to be young. He expressed concern about the government’s announcement of “scientific methods” that are not considered reliable and valid.

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