UNHCR's response to Channel 4's Dispatches
In response to issues raised by Channel 4's documentary 'Dispatches: The Kids Britain Doesn't Want', broadcast on 29th November 2010, UNHCR Representative to the UK Roland Schilling, said:
"The position of the United Nations Refugee Agency is that detention of asylum seekers should as far as possible be avoided and that children in particular should not be subject to this practice. Strong efforts should be made to release detained children and their families to suitable alternative accommodation as soon as possible. Within this context, UNHCR welcomes the UK Governments stated intention to end the practice of detaining children.
"In 2004, the Government and UNHCR established a joint project to audit and make recommendations to foster and strengthen the quality of the UK Border Agencyâ€™s first-instance asylum decisions. Whilst progress in identifying persons in need of international protection has been made and it must be recognised that the United Kingdom has granted asylum to many refugees, some gaps exist within the asylum process. UNHCR has previously raised concerns with the UK Border Agency regarding decision-making in childrens cases and the need for clear guidance for decision-makers in cases where the age of an applicant is disputed. The Office has also advised the Government against returning individuals to countries where they may be at risk due to indiscriminate violence."