Children seeking asylum in west Midlands register 700 % rise

A substantial number are teenage boys from Afghanistan

8th February 2010:
The number of children without parents, seeking asylum after arriving in the West Midlands, has registered an astronomical increase of 700 per cent in six years. A substantial number of them are teenage boys from Afghanistan.

Just from 14 in 2008, the total number of children has shot up to 306 in 2008, according to Freedom of Information requests to councils across the West Midlands. According to the 2008 figures, Birmingham has 85 child asylum seekers in local authority care. Out of these, 22 are in foster care.

Anne Botting from specialist foster agency Pathway Care told the BBC’s Inside Out programme wherever the conflict is in the world, UK witnessed an upsurge in the referrals from that country.

She said the difficulties in finding care for the children were further compounded by the traumatised state in which they often arrived in the country.

Even as Birmingham City Council said these children were putting additional burden on its budget as the government had not provided enough funds, the state said council’s majority funding claims had been met.

Birmingham city councilor-cum-cabinet member for children, young people and families Les Lawrence said Birmingham was owed up to £1m in specialists grants by the UK Border Agency.

He said according to his belief the local authorities nationally were owed between £15 and £20m in unpaid grants from central government.

Disputing the claims, UK Border Agency regional director Gail Adams said with the exception of a small number of claims, all claims by Birmingham City Council for looking after unaccompanied asylum seeking children have been met in full by the UK Border Agency.

She said they recognised that the subject of unaccompanied asylum seeking children was a very complex and emotive issue, and the welfare of minors was of paramount importance to the UK Border Agency."

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