Letter: Home Office adds insult to injury over lone child refugees

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The Independent Online
Sir: The article "Children sent alone to seek asylum in the UK" (4 December) highlights a humanitarian situation that the British Red Cross has been concerned about for some time.

Many young people arrive in Britain alone, as asylum-seekers or refugees, because of conflict in their country of origin. They often lose contact with their families because communication systems break down in war zones or because they are scared that trying to reach them will bring unnecessary attention to relatives living in sensitive situations. Consequently, contact with family members may be lost for several years, or even forever.

Next week the British Red Cross launches a special database that will hold information on unaccompanied minors. This means that if any inquiries about a child in the UK are received from family members, via the Red Cross International Message or Tracing Servicing Services, contact can be restored more easily. The database will work under the same neutrality that governs all Red Cross activity and the information will be strictly confidential; it will not be accessible to statutory authorities or other agencies.

Yours faithfully,

Sandra Singer

Head of International Welfare

British Red Cross

London, SW1

4 December