11 January 2008
Up to 110,000 vulnerable children face an uncertain future because they are caught in a backlog of asylum applications that might not be cleared until 2011, children's charity Barnardo's has warned.
Its report, Like any other child?, says children of families seeking asylum are living in poverty and substandard housing, and face problems ranging from racism to being forced to change schools repeatedly.
Families can wait up to ten years for a decision on their cases, the charity warned. It called for the children to be treated 'as children first and asylum seekers second'.
Parents seeking asylum who are in the UK for longer than six months should be allowed to work and families' applications should be handled by people trained to address the needs of children.
Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said there was 'a moral and economic case for allowing parents trapped in the backlog to work and support their children'.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne backed the charity, saying: 'There is a clear case for allowing them to work so they can pay their own way and use their skills to benefit everyone.'