The Interior Ministry is accused of deporting children aged 16 and over to Rwanda as part of its controversial migration policy.
Refugee agency Care4Calais claims it is in contact with 70 people in detention centers the government plans to send to the African country – two of whom are believed to be 16 years old.
In a statement, the organization said: “The Home Office says [the two boys] are 23 and 26 years old, so it is important that an appropriate age assessment is carried out before deportation. Our lawyers will fight for this.
“A 16-year-old saw his brother killed in front of him when his village in Sudan was attacked. He escaped and later returned to find the whole village gone.’
Meanwhile, The Mirror reports that a 27-year-old man in the UK has been separated from his teenage brother while he is sent to Rwanda.
The person referred to by the alias Saleh has asked the government: “Why are you doing this to me if you are not with other asylum seekers? Why Rwanda?
“They don’t give in. I failed to take care of myself [my brother] when the smuggler separated us and I fail again.’
He said he would rather kill himself than leave his teenage brother.
The Interior Ministry has denied that unaccompanied children are deported to Rwanda, saying “no one will be deported if it is unsafe or inappropriate for them”.
But the anti-trafficking organization Love146 UK also criticizes age assessments.
Campaign manager Daniel Sohege told The Guardian: “We see children aged 14 being misclassified as 23.
“The number of children we have seen who have just had their date of birth entered in 1999 when they are clearly under the age of 18 is very worrying and puts young people at risk.”
Social worker Lauren Starkey added, “It’s not within the realm of possibility that anyone, especially someone trained in child protection, could look at the children we saw and think they were in their 20s.”
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has continued to defend the “unprecedented” plans. She claimed: “That is exactly what the British people want.”
The first deportation flight to Rwanda is expected to take place on April 14.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesman told Metro.co.uk: “Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key element of our strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system and break the business model of evil people smugglers.
“No one is sent to Rwanda unless it is safe to do so. Adults posing as children pose a serious security risk, and in nearly two-thirds of the disputed cases from March 2021-22, the person was found to be over the age of 18.
“When a person does not have credible proof of their age, a thorough age assessment is carried out. You will be treated as if you were a child until a decision on your age has been made.’
It is understood that the age assessment process was developed by the Home Office to ensure children receive support while preventing adults from identifying as children and posing a protection risk.
Appearance and demeanor are used to estimate a person’s age when such credible evidence is not available.
If there is a concern about an individual’s age, the individual will be referred to an appropriate local authority for a “Merton-compliant” age assessment by two social workers.
You will be treated like a child until a decision is made about your age.
More than half (50.6%) of refugee age disputes settled in the first half of this year ended with the person being under 18, according to Home Office data consulted by Metro.co.uk.
This compares to 39% of cases resolved in the same quarter last year.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/05/home-office-attempting-to-deport-16-year-old-minors-to-rwanda-16773648/ Interior Ministry 'tries to deport 16-year-old minors to Rwanda'