The Children’s Society has criticised the lack of support for migrant children experiencing poverty and destitution in Britain.
The charity warned today that young refugees and migrants were going hungry and being “forced to resort to increasingly desperate means in order to survive”.
The “I Don’t Feel Human” report documents their experiences of homelessness and mental health problems. Some have self-harmed and attempted suicide, while others have entered into sexual relationships in exchange for shelter or food.
The number of young refugees supported by the charity that and deemed to be destitute rose from 14% in the year 2009-2010 to 34% in 2011.
The report defines destitution as a “lack of regular access to essential resources” like food, clothing, toiletries, medicine and a place to live.
Some migrant families with young children are not able to access work or welfare support because of immigration restrictions.
The Children’s Charity said these families were living in severe deprivation for long periods of time, in some cases for years.
Policy Director at the charity, Enver Solomon said that migrant children were being “treated as though they have some kind of second-class status that does not entitle them to the necessary protection and support”.
“Often having fled danger in their country of birth, they are exposed to great dangers in this country because they lack a sufficient safety net," he said.
"Far too many are being forced to fend for themselves having slept rough, been victims of violence on the streets, or coerced into sexual relationships with strangers just for a place to stay.
“The uncomfortable truth is that children are being left hungry and homeless at acute risk without recourse to sufficient support.
"This must be recognised as a priority child protection issue so that these children are given the support and protection they desperately need.”
Migrant children experiencing destitution – report
Published 24 February 2012