Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile – Surviving violence, creating hope, rebuilding lives


Baobab Briefings

A statement on Unaccompanied Minors in the UK Asylum System

Given the recent horrifying reports about inhumane detention conditions at Manston Detention Centre; and given further reports about many dysfunctional elements of the current system, such as unaccompanied minors being caught at Manston and pressured to lie about their age by border officials; children under 16 being accommodated in hotels without proper local authority support; and now reports of police investigations into allegations of teenage asylum seekers being raped at an East London Home Office accommodation;

The emotion of outrage does not begin to cover the range of emotions being felt at the moment in our Baobab community of young survivors, asylum seekers and refugees, as we witness the descent of the UK asylum system into ever-more pointless cruelty, neglect and the shocking disregard for the humanity of those seeking asylum.

As to the well-being of children and adolescents seeking asylum in the UK specifically, surely we have to agree that a very serious safeguarding boundary has been crossed.

No one should play political games with the lives of asylum seekers, and especially not with children seeking asylum. 

Unaccompanied children reaching UK shores will have suffered untold hardships both in their home countries, forcing their families to send them away, along the way, and now in the UK as they are likely to endure detention in conditions that breach this country’s basic safeguarding standards. They will have experienced multiple overwhelming and traumatic experiences. It is imperative that their safeguarding be prioritised and that the asylum system in the UK be entirely re-engineered to protect them and ensure their swift integration into UK society.

At the Baobab Centre we have 30-year experience working on the long and painful process of rehabilitation that is necessary to help these young people build constructive lives. The work of rehabilitation should start as soon as possible after their arrival, and be front and centre of any asylum system – not some afterthought left to charities to perform, and certainly not a process actively prevented by local authorities – many of whom challenge credibility without the underpinning of careful multidisciplinary assessment as is the case now. Children in the asylum system must be protected.

We at the Baobab Centre intend to ensure that we can intervene as soon as possible after the arrival of young asylum seekers to the UK, supporting them to rebuild their lives here.

We will continue expanding our outreach to make sure we can work with other like-minded statutory and voluntary organizations in order to ensure protection for as many as possible.