Child refugees exposed to great danger and abuses in Europe, says UNHCR

Domiciliary Prisonoriginally published by: The Guardian
14th June 2010

A drastic increase in the number of unaccompanied minors trying to enter Europe is exposing thousands of children to severe dangers and human rights abuses, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR warned today.

Following UK government plans to set up a £4m “reintegration centre” in Afghanistan so that it can deport unaccompanied child asylum seekers to Kabul from Britain, the UNHCR warned that the measures may force children to go underground, putting them in further danger as they try to avoid the authorities.

According to the report many children consider returning to their home country both a personal failure and “a betrayal of the trust and money that their families have invested in them”.

Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Geneva, said: “There are already children trying to dodge the asylum system and by doing so they are putting themselves in terrible danger. These new measures could encourage them to try and stay completely under the radar and not seek the help they are entitled to.

One of the boys we spoke to said he would commit suicide if he was forced to go back to Afghanistan. Others are fearful because they have been told that they will be held responsible if they go back.”.

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