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Asylum seekers face 'childhood of poverty'

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Up to 100,000 vulnerable children of asylum seekers are condemned to a childhood of poverty because their parents are barred from working.

A new report from children's charity Barnardo's warns that they frequently live in intolerable accommodation, are constantly moved and live under the threat of being forced to return to a country where they face persecution. The UK asylum backlog means some may not have their case heard until 2011

The report Like Any Other Child? calls for asylum seekers to be given the right to work if they are here for longer than six months.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Martin Narey, said: "There is a desperate need for a new approach and in particular a moral and economic case for allowing parents trapped in the backlog to work and support their children.

"Often they have skills the UK needs and they have no wish to live on government handouts."

The charity calls for:

  • Individual claims to have "specialised case owners"

  • Families to not be housed in areas where there is a history of harassment

  • Avoid house moves particularly where they would necessitate school changes

Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner for England , said the report reflected "deep concerns".

“There is no good reason why asylum seeking children should not be afforded the same rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and treated with the same respect and dignity as other children growing up here. The government is right to protect our borders from abuse of the immigration system but children should always be treated as children first irrespective of their immigration status."

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