Save child refugees

petition

Please help defeat the UK Government’s decision tor refuse to take vulnerable children who are alone and at risk in Europe.

Please sign the petition put to the Government demanding that they accept the call to give sanctuary to children. Despite the scaremongering, we are a rich and well resourced country, very well equipped to provide sanctuary to a small number of children.

The petition can be found by clicking here.

As at the time of this blog post there were 42,439 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament. So please share this link to everyone you know. The deadline to achieve 100,000 is 26 October 2016. But let’s not stop at 100,000, let’s show the Government that we remain an inclusive and caring country, a country that should lead by example.

X-Rays of Children (Part Two)

Following the concerns raised by corporate partners of the UK Border Agency, such as Chief Medical Officer and the Children’s Commissioners (see our first blog on this subject here), the trail of dental x-rays for age assessment has been cancelled.

The agency was informed by the National Research Ethics Service (NRES) that the trail constitutes 'research' and that, as such, it requires the approval of a research ethics committee before it can proceed. No x-rays will take place until such time as we have the appropriate ethical approval. Given the questionable results of age assessment by use of x-rays we would hazard a guess that the agency will struggle to get approval.

More when we have it.

X-Rays of Children

The UK Border Agency are planning to restart x-rays of child asylum seekers in order to establish their age. This process was originally dropped over three years ago due to the health risks of those being screened.

Upon this announcement the medical profession, immigration lawyers, and the UK children's commissioner objected to the re-start of this process. The children's commissions said that this is 'a clear breach of the rights of vulnerable children and young people and may, in fact, be illegal'. It was also said that to x-ray children in such circumstances might also constitute assault.

The medical profession warned against the use of checks involving potential harm from ionising radiation when there was no intention of clinical benefits. Also, the scientific evidence suggests that it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine the child's age from an x-ray.

Alison Harvey, general secretary of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, said in a letter to the Border Agency: "Age is disputed with a frequency that gives rise to the most grave concerns, and despite official acknowledgement that you cannot date-stamp a child, the Home Office continues to pursue the chimera of certainty in this area, to the most grave detriment of children who are subjected to doubt, to disbelief, detention and denial of services and now, it is proposed, to irradiation."

More when we have it.

Unaccompanied children returned from the UK to France

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England, revealed that the UK Border Agency have been returning unaccompanied children to France. This occurred within 24 hours of arrival and to those who did not register an asylum claim on entry. Once returned to France, there is little or no administrative trace of the children.

She went on to reveal that this was detailed in a document entitled the 'Gentleman’s Agreement’ by UKBA staff as part of a pack providing details of the policies and procedures guiding the operations around entry. The policy has been operational between April 1995 and August 2011 and was ended due to the intervention of Atkinson.

It doesn't sound very gentlemanly to us.

For further information click here.

Detention of Asylum Seeking Children

The Deputy Prime Minister, as part of his speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the formation of the Refugee Council in the UK, said the policy of detaining children has stopped.

While, the Children's Society produced a new research report called ‘What Have I Done? The experiences of children and families in UK immigration detention' which examines the experiences of 32 families detained prior to the pledge to end the detention of children.

It emphasises the importance of safeguarding issues around the use of detention and the impact to children, some of the experiences collected include:

  • Children witnessing traumatic events, including hunger strikes and suicide attempts and the use of restraint on their parents.
  • High levels of stress, fear, confusion, and feelings of hopelessness and degradation experienced by family members in detention.
  • Many children did not eat, or lost weight, during detention. Families had medication removed upon arrival or missed important medical appointments as a consequence of detention. One child was detained for a second time despite suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after her first detention.
  • The majority of children experienced emotional distress during detention, including sleeplessness, nightmares and constant crying.
  • After release from detention, the majority of families experienced on-going and persistent effects on their mental and emotional health.

You can find the report, and more about the Children's Society, at their website here.