Hundreds of child asylum seekers have gone missing in UK, government admits

Since July 2021, there have been 440 missing occurrences and 200 children still remain missing

Hundreds of child asylum seekers have gone missing since the British government started housing minors in hotels due to a strain on the country’s asylum accommodation system, British Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday, amid calls for an investigation into the matter.

Jenrick said Tuesday that around 200 children have gone missing since July 2021. “Out of the 4,600 unaccompanied children that have been accommodated in hotels since July 2021, there have been 440 missing occurrences and 200 children still remain missing,” he said.

Approximately 13 of the 200 missing children are under the age of 16, and one is female according to government data. The majority of the missing, 88%, are Albanian nationals, and the remaining 12% are from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkey.

Jenrick blamed the problem on an increase in migrant boat crossings through the English Channel to the United Kingdom which left the government “no alternative” than to use “specialist hotels” to accommodate minors as of July 2021.

Although the contracted use of hotels was envisioned as a temporary solution, there were still four in operation as of October with over 200 rooms designated to child migrants, according to a report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

British charities and migrant rights groups have long complained about the bad conditions in the country’s overwhelmed and underfunded asylum system.

The number of asylum claims processed in the UK has collapsed in recent years, leaving people in limbo for months and years – trapped in processing facilities or temporary hotels and unable to work – and fueling an intractable debate about Britain’s borders.

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