Addressing the needs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and child refugees in Scotland
This briefing paper arises out of concern surrounding the refugee crisis, and looks more specifically at what can be done in Scotland to better support unaccompanied children who arrive in Scotland as asylum seekers or refugees.
It states that in the near future, the UK Government Home Office is likely to make decisions on (1) children at risk from the Middle East and North Africa region; (2) the admission of unaccompanied child refugees from Syria and elsewhere currently within the European Union; and also (3) the dispersal within the United Kingdom of unaccompanied asylum seeking children currently living in Kent and Hillingdon (which have both seen spikes in applications in recent months). This paper sets out the context of the current refugee crisis, particularly as it relates to unaccompanied minors, and looks at the structures in place in Scotland to provide support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children. It draws two primary conclusions:
- The Scottish Government should be empowered, in consultation with the Home Office, to take a lead role in overseeing the resettlement of child refugees and unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Scotland as it has the capacity to understand the broad range of needs of these vulnerable children and provide for these needs more efficiently than local authorities could acting individually.
- The Scottish Guardianship Service (SGS), which currently supports children before their asylum claims have been processed, should be empowered by secondary legislation to also support the integration of children who arrive in Scotland with refugee status already in place, and should be provided with the financial and human resources capacity to do so.
The report includes background information about the refugee crisis, the Scottish Guardianship Service and the categories of vulnerable children who may be relocated to Scotland in the near future. It also includes recommendations to the UK Government, the Scottish Government, Scottish local authorities and civil society organisations.
The paper was compiled by Peace and Justice Centre volunteers and draws on secondary research and interviews with stakeholders and key informants from entities including the Scottish Government, the Scottish Refugee Council, the University of Bedfordshire and Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.
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