At least 16 asylum seekers have had their dates of birth changed by British authorities so they can be held in a controversial detention center run by the Home Office, The Observer reported on Sunday, citing a group that helps migrants enter the UK.
The Refugee Council told the British newspaper that it interviewed 16 children recently released from the Manston Asylum Center in Kent. The boys told the organization that they were all between 15 and 17 years old, but were over 18 according to Home Office staff. Three had photographs of passports or identity documents apparently proving their age, but the council said this evidence was ignored.
The boys were then held at Manston for up to 20 days at a stretch, before the center was closed last week following allegations of overcrowding and violence, and the death of an inmate who was allegedly infected with diphtheria.
The Manston center was built to handle record numbers of migrants crossing the British Channel into the UK. More than 40,000 people have made the journey so far this year, according to Home Office data – the highest figure since record keeping began in 2018. The largest share of migrants come from Albania, a country considered “sure” by the British government.
Once released from temporary centers like Manston, children registered as adults can be sent to adult accommodation, usually in hotels, across the UK. The Refugee Council argues minors should be placed instead and said it had removed 92 minors from the adult system and been cared for since September.
While campaigners say the system is failing children, Home Office figures from January 2018 to March 2022 show that 2,722 of 4,814 unaccompanied migrants claiming to be children were discovered to be adults after a investigation. The remaining 9,394 unaccompanied migrants claiming to be minors were not investigated.
You can share this story on social media: