Babies Abandoned in Airport – Great Britain
A troubling new trend is appearing in Great Britain. Home Office figures show an increase of unaccompanied children under 18 years old, applying for asylum. Many were from war-torn countries or those afflicted by desperate poverty, with around a third from Afghanistan, 10 per cent from Iran and nine per cent from Iraq.
Asylum seeker groups said that relatives abandoning their children do so as “the best of several terrible options” but the increased numbers results is becoming a burden for local authorities and council tax payers who will have to pay an estimated £150 million to look after them.
In Hampshire, 68 children were found abandoned at Southampton docks, Southampton airport and at service stations in the past year. One, at the docks, was aged just three. A spokeswoman said unaccompanied asylum seeking children would be treated in exactly the same way as other children in the council’s care. “Our fostering service has care givers who are skilled in providing the extra support needed by children requiring emergency placements,” she said. “We do whatever we can to facilitate contact with their families.”
Christine Knight, from the Southampton and Winchester Visitors’ Group, an organization which works with asylum seekers, said children were abandoned as the “best of several terrible options”. “Usually their parents have been killed and distant relatives or friends put them on a plane here because it is better than staying in Iraq, for example,” she said
Under plans announced by the Home Office children could be sent back to their country of origin. But a Border Agency spokesperson said they would never deport a child unless they had contacted their family or arranged care for them. “We recognize that the subject of unaccompanied asylum seeking children is a very complex and emotive issue, and the welfare of children and young people is of paramount importance. ”That is why, even where an unaccompanied asylum seeking child has been found not to need international protection, we do not return children and young people to countries unless either the family has been satisfactorily traced or an acceptable level of reception and care arrangements have been established.”