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Asylum Seekers: Children

Volume 670: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What proposals they have regarding the return of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children without parents to their country of origin; and [HL1394]Whether the child care and protection structures in Albania are satisfactory to safeguard the welfare of asylum-seeking children deported from the United Kingdom. [HL1396]

We have been developing a returns programme for some time for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) who are under 18 years of age and whose asylum or humanitarian protection claims have been refused.The programme will be piloted in Albania. We set out our intentions in this area in

Controlling our borders: Making Migration Work For Britain, Five year strategy for asylum and immigration (Cm 6472, February 2005, paragraph 76).

UASCs will be either returned to their family, where tracing has been possible and reunification is appropriate, or given a tailored package of reception, care and support in Tirana, to be provided by contracted non-governmental organisations with considerable international expertise in childcare and welfare issues. No child or young person will be removed from the UK unless we are satisfied that the arrangements put in place meet our international obligations.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many unaccompanied asylum-seeking children there are in the United Kingdom, broken down by country of origin and age. [HL1395]

Based on management information, the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs) in the UK being supported by local authorities as at the end of January 2005 is estimated by National Asylum Support Service (NASS) to be a total of 5,700, of whom 4,000 children were aged 16 or 17, and 1,700 were aged under 16. A nationality breakdown is not available and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.Information on the number of UASC applications, and on initial decisions, broken down by nationality is published in the quarterly and annual asylum statistics on the Home Office website at