Child asylum-seekers to be forcibly deported

The Home Office provoked fury after it announced that teenage asylum-seekers who arrive alone in Britain could for the first time be forcibly deported.

Refugee groups and children's charities protested that the threatened removals would endanger and distress vulnerable young people fleeing nations in turmoil.

Some 3,000 unaccompanied youngsters claim asylum every year, with the largest numbers coming from Afghanistan, Iran, eastern Africa and China.

Children are allowed to remain in the country until they reach 18, when their cases for asylum are considered alongside adult applicants.

Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister, said that the policy was a "green light" to people-traffickers who could promise teenagers they would not be sent home once they reached Britain.

In a consultation document, the Home Office said under-18s would be offered help to go home voluntarily when it was safe to do so, but added that it could not be right for them to remain in this country when they had turned down the chance.

It added: "We will therefore consider, on a case by case basis, enforcing the removal of those who have not reached 18 and who do not accept the offer of an assisted voluntary return where it is clear that the consequences of their actions have been explained and understood by them."

But Lisa Nandy, policy adviser for the Children's Society, warned: "This will cause great distress and suffering to many who have fled torture, war and poverty and runs contrary to the Government's aspiration to keep these children safe."

Dame Mary Marsh, chief executive of the children's charity, the NSPCC, said: "The Government appears to be turning its back on children who have been separated from their families and who may have suffered trauma or persecution."

She added: "The majority of these children will be alone, frightened and unable to speak English and therefore powerless to explain why their safety depends on remaining in the UK. Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "The Government should not try to force any child to return against their wishes where their safety and welfare cannot be guaranteed. These are not children who come here seeking a better life, with their families waiting for them in peaceful homes. Many of them are children from war zones."

Mr Byrne also announced that regional centres will be set up to specialise in assessing the age of applicants who claim to be children, to stop over-18s claiming they are still minors. Plans to use X-rays to help determine age will be considered by a working group after the idea was opposed by campaigners on human rights and health grounds.

Plans to find alternatives to detention for asylum-seeking families were also announced by the Home Office.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific