February 12, 2016
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — A Home Office minister has admitted that thousands of former child refugees have been deported back to war-torn countries. The latest figures revealed that, since 2007, more than 2,700 young asylum seekers have been returned to countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.
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The U.K. government doesn’t generally deport unaccompanied children; and minors are given a temporary form of leave to remain, which lasts until they turn 17-and-a-half. Children are then put into the care of local authorities or placed with foster families and encouraged to integrate into British society.
Once they turn 18, they are no longer protected as children and must apply to extend their leave. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, just one in five Afghan teenagers was granted asylum at that age, and after years living in the U.K., thousands are being deported.
The figures released this week finally came to light after Labour MP Louise Haigh and the Bureau challenged the Home Office for previously supplying two different sets of numbers to the same question. The in-depth investigation by the Bureau — which has investigated the issue for two years — revealed that the answers to a Freedom of Information request differed from the response to an official Parliamentary Question.
In a Written Answer to the House of Commons in November, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said that just 1,040 former child refugees had been returned to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya since 2007. After the discrepancies were challenged, the Home Office issued a third set of figures this week that revealed a startling increase of 250 percent in deportation totals.
The latest figures show that in 2015, 57 former child refugees were sent back to Afghanistan, despite Taliban control of many areas. In addition, 657 former child refugees have been returned to Iraq since 2007, including 22 last year and 38 in 2014 — when the “Islamic State” began its merciless regime in large areas of the country.
If the vast discrepancy in data really was a mistake and the U.K. Minister of Immigration can be so wrong — what chance do the rest of us have of knowing the truth? This point of view was echoed by Haigh, who questioned how seriously the Home Office was taking the problem after they blamed the blunder on an error during the extraction process.
“How can Ministers claim to protect vulnerable people in the immigration system when they don’t even know how many they were supposed to be protecting?” the Labour frontbencher asked.
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