Refugees: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 25th May 2016.

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Photo of Lord Chidgey Lord Chidgey Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 12 February (HL5949), based on the UNHCR assessment of the number and needs of unaccompanied children in conflict regions, what is their estimate of (1) the number, and (2) the needs, of unaccompanied children from Sudan and South Sudan.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Parliamentary Under-Secretary

The Government is not in a position to comment on the number or needs of unaccompanied children in particular countries. All asylum seeking children who arrive in the UK and are unaccompanied are referred to a local authority. Those local authorities hold responsibility for assessing their needs and providing services based on the outcome of the assessment.

The Government is clear about our moral responsibility to assist those who are suffering as a result of conflict and recognises that those fleeing persecution have a legal entitlement to protection. We worked with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to design and launch the ‘Children at Risk’ resettlement scheme. On the UNHCR’s recommendation, the scheme will not target unaccompanied children alone, but will be extended to all ‘Children at Risk’ as defined by the UNHCR who are in the Middle East and North Africa. We have committed to resettling several hundred individuals in the first year with a view to resettling up to 3,000 individuals over the lifetime of this Parliament, the majority of whom will be children.

As stated above, we cannot comment on the number of children in other countries. However, figures on asylum applications for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) in the UK are published quarterly by the Home Office in the Immigration Statistics release. A copy of the latest release, Immigration Statistics October to December 2015, is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-october-to-december-2015.

There were 142 applications for asylum from UASCs, excluding dependants, for nationals of Sudan during 2015. No such applications were received from nationals of South Sudan in 2015. UNHCR have published statistics on estimated numbers of children in countries, including South Sudan. These can be found at: http://data.unhcr.org/SouthSudan/regional.php.

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