Refugee children risk rape and trafficked in UK hotels – claim

Suella Braverman voices concerns about migrants in hotels

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Children of asylum seekers living in hotels across the UK are at risk of falling victim to crimes such as rape and human trafficking, an expert has warned. Incidents of rape of children and human trafficking are being reported as vulnerable asylum seekers are staying exposed in hotels paid for by the Government, as their applications are being processed. A representative from the charity Refugee Council raised the alarm over the risks faced by people who are “lingering” there.

A huge backlog of cases and slow processing is exacerbating the issue, according to the charity.

The backlog is a result of people being unable to leave the processing system, according to a Refugee Council representative.

It said it had received reports of children living at the hotels being raped.

The charity warned they are at risk of human trafficking, and urged the Government to improved safeguarding measures.

Kama Petruczenko, a senior policy analyst, told “Some politicians are saying that [people who are claiming asylum] are a threat, but actually the opposite is happening – people seeking asylum in hotels have sadly become targets for far-right terrorist attacks and we know that people face other safeguarding risks – for example, we had issues of children being raped in hotels and many instances of harassment.

“There are also issues with people being trafficked from hotels because the safeguards are so poor. But these problems are preventable, and we need to protect people who experienced so much and need safety in the UK.”

It comes after a person died last week at the Manston processing centre in Kent and another centre in Dover became the target of a petrol bomb attack, which counterterrorism police believe was perpetrated by a right-wing extremist.

Ms Petruczenko said: “The backlog in the processing of people seeking asylum’s applications is a massive bottleneck, with increasing cases outstanding between one to three years.

“More and more people stay in the system on asylum support, in asylum accommodation in hotels, and not enough of them leave the system.

“Although the number of asylum claims is increasing, the key issue is that we are not getting this balance between the new claims coming in and decisions being made on claims which are already in the system.

“That’s why we are seeing people lingering in these hotels, running into millions of pounds at a time when we all have to be very wise with how we spend public money.”

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This backlog means people are crammed in hotels for months, and sometimes even more than a year.

Ms Petruczenko added: “People seeking asylum are vulnerable people who are often suffering trauma, as most of them come from countries with complex, protracted conflicts and gross human rights violations, and have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

“We’ve seen several cases of people seeking asylum staying in hotels for more than a year, and actually moving from one hotel to another, which again, has an awful impact, especially when children are involved.

“They have to change schools and often are in therapy, and such interruptions in education and continuity of care are quite bad for them.”

The Home Office has been approached for comment. 

The Daily Mail reported yesterday the number of asylum seekers being housed in hotels has reached 40,000. 

About 4,000 people held at the Manston migrant processing centre were moved to hotels, after concerns it had become dangerously overcrowded.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman today blamed people crossing the Channel for overcrowding at the Manston processing centre, after the way the centre was operated was branded a “breach of humane conditions”.

After being pressured by MPs at the Commons Home Affairs Committee, she said: “I tell you who’s at fault. It’s very clear who’s at fault. It’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people. That’s who’s at fault.”

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