Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Another UKBA Farce

The government's attempt to find an alternative to imprisoning the children of 'refused' asylum seekers, a practice that is still going on as the current Yarl's Wood hunger strike proves, has been ridiculed in the press and heavily criticised by the Children's Society.

The £1m pilot scheme to house families supposedly due to be returned was run by Migrant Helpline in Kent. However, due to alleged UK Borders Agency ineptitude, of the 260 families due to be processed during the trial, only 13 actually made it there. Of those, only 1 family actually was returned to their country of origin.

The families were given seven days to sell their possessions, take their children out of school and move to the centre after supposedly having taken an informed decision to leave the country. Yet most of the families didn't actually know what the scheme was about, other than it was supposed to be an alternative to a long stay in a detention centre.

On top of that most of the people the UKBA referred to the scheme still had outstanding asylum applications and should not have been there. This lead to the Children's Society stating that the project was "mismanaged from start to finish" and the Border Agency had no clear objectives or evaluation criteria, "so they didn't know actually what it was they were trying to achieve".

Keith Vaz, the Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman was also quoted as saying in response to the story that "it is never acceptable to lock children up with or without their parents." So when are the government going to outlaw this practice as they are bound to do under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

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