UK: fears for safety of migrant children kidnapped from government care schemes

News Desk

Hundreds of children, most of whom arrived illegally in the UK, have gone missing from hotels where the UK's Home Office had placed them while their status was assessed and action taken. The children mainly arrived as unaccompanied minors so they were not in the care of their families.

The BBC analysed data provided by The Home Office and found that more than 1,600 children had been placed in hotels between July 2021 and June 2022. From July 2021 to August 2022, 116 children had gone missing. The hotel scheme was implemented as a national policy after local authorities said they did not have capacity to take any more migrants.

Newsnight, the BBC's flagship news broadcast, found that 181 had disappeared but that 65 had, in one way or another, been accounted for.

But even though the government said that hotel stays were usually only for 15 days as a stop-gap until more suitable accommodation could be found, the number of children missing has continued to rise with the total missing now, according to some reports, exceeding 2,200.

It was reported that there were fears that the children were forced into labour with threats made against their families if they did not obey.

Now, several months after the BBC's report, The Guardian has taken up the story, citing an anonymous source they say that children have been "abducted off the street outside the hotel and bundled into cars." The Home Office says that the claim is "untrue" the anonymous source has doubled down saying that as many as 10% of the children in a hotel in Kent "disappear each week."

The children are often from Albania, the largest source of illegal migrants landing in the UK. Albanian organised crime has a strong foothold in Britain. Albania is not a member of the EU therefore its citizens to not have rights of movement within the EU. However, it is an EU candidate country, and has been since 2014. It is widely considered that there is no justification for asylum claims: but it's prime territory for people smuggling gangs.

So, while much is made of "trafficking," the fact is that almost all of the 12,000 Albanians who travelled across the EU and crossed the English Channel or transported from ports in Spain are smuggled not trafficked. But there's another dodge: they are often told that if they are stopped by the authorities they should claim to have been trafficked i.e. transported against their will.

It is believed by the Home Office that many of the unaccompanied minors do, in fact, travel with at least one relative but told to pretend to be alone and that others are, in effect, sent-on ahead to await others.