An Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) is defined by the Home Office as a young person under the age of 18 making an application for asylum in his or her own right and who “has no adult relative or guardian to turn to in this country”. These young people may have arrived in the UK by themselves or with an adult who later abandoned them or who does not present as suitable carer or guardian.
UASC are supported within the framework of the Children Act 1989 as Children in Need, and this should be guided by the principle that they are “children first and foremost”. However, there are also special circumstances facing these young people, particularly the fact that they are seeking protection under the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, which defines a refugee as follows:
‘Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear is unwilling to avail himself to the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his habitual residence, is unable, or owing to such fear unwilling to return to it,’ (Article 1).
Research shows that the adversities affecting many unaccompanied young people include traumatic experiences as part of their flight, as well as separation from or loss of family members, and that an increasing number fall victim to international trafficking for exploitative purposes.
The UASC Health website has been developed by East Kent Children’s Commissioning Support Team to share learning, tools, templates and guidance with other local authority and CCG areas to help meet the needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. See details about the UASC website launch.
CFAB is a UK charity that works to protect vulnerable children separated from their families across international borders.