Turn-18-and-leave-country policy for child asylum seekers comes under criticism

There are around 4,000 unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain 19th September 2011: Government policy’s on child asylum seekers has come under criticism by actress Emma Thompson.
Many of child asylum seekers are given protection for years; and deported as soon as they turn 18. In fact, the Home Office tells them automatically to leave the country as they approach their 18th birthday. The young asylum seekers have a right to appeal. But estimates suggest just around 7 per cent are successful.

As of now, there are around 4,000 unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain.

The assertion comes at a time when Thompson is supporting Hamedullah: The Road Home, a film by children’s rights campaigner and director Sue Clayton. It is scheduled to be screened by Amnesty International at London’s Tricycle Cinema on Thursday.

In 2003, Emma Thompson informally adopted a 24-year-old Rwandan refugee, Tindyebwa Agaba. She went on to legally sponsored his winning battle to stay in Britain. He graduated from Exeter University last year

Thompson said it was current British policy to send back lone child refugees as soon as they turn 18 to the war zones from which they fled. But no one has any idea what then happens to these kids, who’ve adapted to British life.

Thompson said she was happy to see Agaba "flourish and achieve his potential"; and wished others could be given the same chances as him, and not thrown out of their lives here, at the very point when they start to become useful and effective adults.

Hamedullah: The Road Home is the story of a former child asylum seeker Hamedullah Hassany. Just 21, he was seized and deported after a dawn raid in Canterbury in November 2008.

Hassany is currently unemployed and living in Northern Afghanistan. Director Sue Clayton says the reason she made this, really, was that he was a human being and she am tired of asylum seekers being referred to just in headlines. She knew him as a person. Just imagine if it was one of their own kids. You want to understand how they might survive.

Thompson made it clear that she sympathised with Hassany’s story.

Referring to Agaba’s case, she said his father died of Aids when he was nine. To make the matters worse, his mother and sister were listed as missing after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Thompson and her husband, actor Greg Wise, met Agaba when he was 16 at a London party organised by asylum seeker charity The Refugee Council.

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