Letters: Provision for child asylum seekers

Letters: What provisions are in place to establish on a case-by-case basis that Afghanistan is a safe environment for these children to be returned to?

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture has urgent questions about the UK Border Agency's plan to forcibly return unaccompanied child asylum seekers to Afghanistan on a monthly basis (Report, 8 June). We have seen an increasing number of Afghan children arriving in this country suffering extreme trauma after horrendous experiences, including torture, repeated rape and witnessing their family members being killed. Some of our clients have fled the country following pressure from their families and communities to fight or train as suicide bombers. After long, often treacherous journeys to the UK, they are terrified of being returned.

What provisions are in place to establish on a case-by-case basis that Afghanistan is a safe environment for these children to be returned to, when the personal circumstances of many young, unaccompanied Afghans in the UK may be complex? Scant detail has been supplied by the UK government on whether adequate measures would be taken to care for vulnerable groups returned, including specialist services to treat survivors of torture. Managing the psychiatric and physical consequences of these individuals' ordeals is a very long process, lasting years and involving a variety of therapies. As a state party to the UN convention on the rights of the child, the government's obligations are clear.

Unless it can be established that return to Afghanistan is clearly in each child's best interests and respects their human rights, the UKBA should take extreme caution in pressing ahead with such a plan and think about investing further in UK services to support them.

Keith Best

Chief executive officer, Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

The GuardianTramp

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