ABOUT UNACCOMPANIED ASYLUM-SEEKING CHILDREN
It is estimated that 34 million children are currently displaced and on the move worldwide, with more than 8 million are travelling alone without their families. The experiences of persecution, violence, poverty and war in their home countries are followed by loss and separation, being exposed to exploitation, abuse and life-threatening journeys at the mercy of traffickers and smugglers.
Those who make it to the UK are faced with the complex challenges of settling in a culture unknown to them, engaging in the complicated asylum process whilst learning a new language – all without the support of their families. Despite the resilience and survival skills of these young people, the trauma many of them suffer is deep and complex in nature.
The added uncertainty of their asylum claim outcome, and the risk of being removed to their home countries at the age of 18 can be very stressful.
These insecurities affect many to such a degree that opportunities for personal and cultural integration are lost. All of this puts the children at a very high risk of both physical and mental ill health. There is a danger too that their vulnerability marks them out as targets for political or religious groups and puts them at risk of further exploitation.
Data from the research association shows that between 2018-2020, 18,292 children in migration went missing in Europe. https://missingchildreneurope.eu/over-18-000-missing-children-in-migration/. It is feared that the majority of them have fallen into the hands of criminal gangs and organised trafficking syndicates for sexual, labour and organ exploitation. Many are at risk of being radicalised.