NYAS has today released a new report, Place of Safety?, which recommends new ways for Welsh Government to protect, support, empower and safeguard unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Wales. The report is available in English here and in Welsh here.
There are 125 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children living in Wales. These children have been separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult.
Asylum-seeking young people often have complex needs, resulting in greater risk of missing episodes, abuse, trafficking and exploitation.
With over half of unaccompanied and separated children in the UK thought to be suffering from PTSD and almost one in three suffering with depression, NYAS Cymru are committed to supporting and upholding the rights of every child and young person.
Our report seeks to support the commitments of Welsh Government in the current Refugee and Asylum Seeker Plan, by providing four recommendations to improve the ‘asylum journey’ for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Wales.
We recommend that Welsh Government:
- Protect children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are provided with clear summaries in their native language as to the mental health and wellbeing offer in Wales, including how to access that support.
- Support children and young people through the Age Assessment process.
Welsh Government should create clear guidance for Local Authorities and practitioners on the role of the Appropriate Adult in Age Assessments and ensure that every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child has the right to an independent Appropriate Adult who has been trained for their role.
- Empower children and young people with independent advocacy.
Every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child must have an active offer of independent advocacy so that their rights and entitlements are protected throughout their asylum journey.
- Safeguard children and young people from trafficking and exploitation.
Welsh Government should make statutory provision for every child in Wales to be offered an independent return interview after a missing episode, conducted by someone independent of the police and local authority. Every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child must be given information about trafficking and exploitation in their own language.
Sharon Lovell, National Executive Director of Wales, said “NYAS Cymru are launching our campaign today to highlight and address the issues for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We are calling for every child to be protected, safeguarded and ensure their rights and entitlements are upheld. Too many children tell us they feel unsafe, scared and isolated without knowing what to expect. This needs to change to ensure all children experience a place of safety in Wales.”