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Issue #1537      29 February 2012

Kids forced to sell sex for shelter

London: The Children’s Society has warned that vulnerable refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant kids and youth are being left homeless and destitute – forcing them to turn to prostitution in order to survive.

The charity revealed that some young people suffered from mental health problems and even attempted suicides, while others had been forced into “sexual relationships” in exchange for shelter or food.

Refugee families with very young children were living in severe deprivation for long periods of times – in some cases for years – because of draconian immigration rules that denies them access to work or welfare support.

The charity said it had seen a “noticeable rise” in the number of children and young people seeking its help.

Between April and September last year, around 34 percent of young refugees supported by the charity’s new Londoners project were destitute – compared with 14 percent in the previous year.

The charity’s policy director Enver Solomon slammed the government’s immigration policy as the main cause of this shocking rise in destitution and child abuse.

“We estimate that thousands of children exist in the shadows of our communities, having their lives damaged by an approach that irresponsibly prioritises immigration control above the best interests of children,” he said.

“The UK Border Agency and local authorities have a duty to safeguard these children who are no less deserving than any other. Yet it appears that they are being treated as though they have some kind of second-class status that does not entitle them to the necessary protection and support.”

Mr Solomon demanded that the government urgently review available support so that children and young people seeking protection are not forced to live in absolute poverty and despair.

He noted: “Often having fled danger in their country of birth, they are exposed to great dangers in this country because they lack a sufficient safety net. Far too many are being forced to fend for themselves having slept rough, been victims of violence on the streets, or coerced into sexual relationships with strangers just for a place to stay.

“Immediate action is needed.”

Morning Star  

Next article – Cameron’s family tsar Emma Harrison quits after scandal

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