Personal Immigration

Report reveals destitution among migrant children

A new report by The Children’s Society has revealed alarming levels of destitution among refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children and young people.

A rising number of children who have nowhere to live – and no source of financial support – are turning to The Children’s Society for help. Between April and September 2011, more than a third of young refugees supported by The Children’s Society's New Londoners project were destitute – compared with 14% in the previous year (2009-10).

Young people who were destitute reported serious illness and mental health problems. Some young people self-harmed and attempted suicide. Other young people have even been forced into sexual relationships in exchange for shelter or food.

Destitute families with very young children, but no access to work or welfare support because of immigration restrictions, are living in severe deprivation for long periods of time, in some cases for several years.

The Children’s Society is calling for immediate action to make sure that children and young people in the immigration system are not forced to live in destitution. It is also calling for the government to urgently review the levels of support provided so that children and young people seeking protection are not forced to live in absolute poverty and despair.

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