EU migrant crisis: UK primary destination for unaccompanied child asylum-seekers

The European Asylum Support Office says more unaccompanied minors seeking asylum arrived in Britain last year than any other EU country. The report claims a fifth of all young people seeking asylum in the bloc did so in Britain. The figures are driven partially by a increase in migrants crossing the English Channel.

Unaccompanied children seeking asylum rose by 19 percent last year, according to the report.

The UK took in 22 percent of the 3,650 minors seeking asylum in the EU.

Young Eritreans accounted for the biggest proportion amounting to 584.

And the report says 92 percent of the 485 unaccompanied Vietnamese children heading for Europe applied to the UK.

Kent County Council warned it was facing a “critical situation” because of the number of children seeking asylum in the UK had doubled in a year.

More than 500 unaccompanied minors had been put under the care of the council while seeking asylum.

Almost of half of them arrived over the past six months.

Child migrants up to the age of 15 are often places with a foster family.

Those aged 16 and 17 are normally housed in temporary recession centres, some are then placed into foster care while others are given their own accommodation.

Kent council leader Roger Gough said the number of migrants crossing the Channel had put pressure on its facilities.

For the first time in almost two years, unaccompanied children arriving in Kent were passed onto other local authorities.

Stephen Hale, the chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “We should never think twice about offering safety to children who are alone and fleeing war and persecution.

“It’s profoundly wrong that many of these scared and vulnerable young people have to take terrible risks to reach the UK.

“The government must open up more safe and legal routes for unaccompanied young people and expand other routes to safety for refugees such as the UK’s hugely successful resettlement programmes.”

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Around 12 percent of the applications were from migrants claiming to be from Albania.

Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs, said: “The facts in this report show, we must manage migration better. It is clear that some countries could contribute a lot more.

“Migration has always been here, will always be here. Our task is to manage migration in an orderly way and to protect fundamental rights.”

The Easo have predicted another increase in asylum cases because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They said: “EU countries should be prepared for increases in asylum application in the medium term, including due to the repercussions of COVID-19 on low-income countries.”

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