200 Children Missing from Home Office Hotels
The fate of asylum-seeking children at Home Office hotels remains uncertain; this is a child protection failure of unprecedented proportions
The deeply distressing news of the unthinkable treatment of asylum-seeking children , and the equally distressing news of over 200 children going missing outside of Home Office hotel accommodation, has caused outrage to those of whom it reached in its media coverage this week.
The issue of asylum-seeking children has become needlessly incendiary in recent years. What remains at the heart of this issue, irrespective, is a catastrophic failure to protect the most vulnerable.
For us at My Family Group, this is an issue that we squarely see as our concern and one we simply cannot ignore.
Our maxim is “It takes a community to raise a child”: that all of us need to work together to raise a child whose birth parents – for whatever reason – are unable to do so. The core of our work is advocacy for the child in care, to provide a voice for the voiceless, and it is our firm belief that every child deserves a family. We have always unequivocally been against placing children in unregulated care settings and settings that mean children have no parental care. And since 2021, we have strongly opposed the Home Office practice of placing children in hotel accommodation.
We cannot accept that the Home Office continues to justify the use of hotels as being ‘temporary’. We believe this is a significant departure from the Children Act 1989 and established standards. The longer these children are kept in hotels – with recent revelations of children going missing and the horrifying treatment they face – it is clear that the Home Office is failing in its responsibility towards them.
Serious questions; few answers
The latest information provided by a government minister on 21 October 2022 confirmed that 222 children who went missing from these hotels have never been found.
Serious questions remain about the safety of these children:
- Are they safe?
- Where are they?
- Who are they with?
- What is happening to them?
All of these questions remain unanswered and this remains a significant concern. There are simply no words that can convey our shock and dismay.
We have last week added our signature to a letter written directly to the Prime Minister – alongside ECPAT UK, Children England, and a number of other charities – to express our grave concern that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are going missing, suspected of being trafficked and criminally exploited from hotels where they have continued to be accommodated by the Home Office.
We continue to make urgent requests to ministers and government departments to discontinue this practice in light of all the evidence that these children face significant harm. And we stand by the comments of a local councillor in describing this as “an unprecedented child safeguarding catastrophe”.
It worries us deeply to see an unprecedented and growing trend in dehumanising language around asylum seekers and UASC. We feel that present coverage of the issue does little to properly humanise the plight of these UASC, many of whom also happen to be Muslim children.
We find it beyond belief to hear further shocking treatment that these children have faced in these hotels this week, and we stand with Patricia Durr – CEO of ECPAT UK – in saying that this is a “scandalous and growing child protection failure”.
Call to action!
Join us in demanding a public enquiry into the Home Office practice of using hotels to house these children.
Make a stand against this continuing harmful practice and call out the unprecedented level of failure to care for and safeguard these children.
Stand with us and these children, by issuing a general call to demand an end to the dehumanisation of asylum-seeking children.