The news that the UK Border Agency intends to set up a ‘reintegration centre’ in Afghanistan so that it can start deporting unaccompanied child asylum seekers (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/07/child-asylum-seekers-uk-afghanistan) is deeply disappointing.
Whilst acknowledging that returns must form part of any immigration policy, when returning children to their country of origin, The Children's Society believes that the child’s best interests have to be at the forefront of any decision. Before sending any child back, there needs to be a system of individual risk assessments. The political and socio-economic conditions in the country of return are vital components to such an assessment and we are startled that the UK Government believes that Afghanistan currently provides conditions to ensure children's long term safety and welfare.
The Children's Society does not believe that children are currently accessing a fair asylum determination process and until this is addressed we are opposed to forcibly returning children when there are clear and legitimate protection needs.