Published: 00:01, 26 July 2016
Unaccompanied migrant children are being systematically let down by the EU and its member states including the UK, says a House of Lords report published today.
Kent is singled out in the report as one of the areas facing the greatest pressure from child migrants, with a far higher number - 367 - than any other part of the south east.
The county is additionally facing the problem of so-called “care leavers” - those who arrived as children but who are now over the age of 18 and continue to be the county council’s responsibility. The council, according to the report, has 400 of these.
The report found child asylum seekers “are treated with suspicion and detained in squalid conditions, while member states shirk their responsibility to care for them as children.”
The report accuses countries of failing to implement EU measures to protect vulnerable children.
It calls for a system of independent guardians to be set up to look after them, saying many children were being driven into the hands of people smugglers and traffickers.
As a result, the number of child migrants who have gone missing across Europe was now estimated to be more than 10,000.
It calls on the government to take its fair share and not to treat unaccompanied migrant children as ‘somebody else’s problem’.
Baroness Prashar, chairman of the committee, said: “At the sharp end of this crisis are unaccompanied migrant children, who are being failed across the board.
"We found a clear failure among EU countries, including the UK, to shoulder their fair share of the burden.
"We deeply regret the UK Government’s reluctance to relocate migrant children to the UK, in particular those living in terrible conditions in the camps near the channel ports.”
She added: “It is particularly shocking that so many unaccompanied child migrants are falling out of the system altogether and going missing.”
During the inquiry, KCC’s social services director Andrew Ireland told peers: “If we see a significant increase in numbers of arrivals without a national scheme in place it is going to place a huge burden on one particular local authority, albeit one of the largest local authorities.”
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