U.K. Sends Thousands of Teenagers Seeking Asylum Back to War-Torn Countries

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Since 2007, the UK has deported thousands of child refugees back to war torn countries in the Middle East. These nations include Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. These children are deported once they turn 18. The children fled homelands that were ravaged by war. Fleeing the turmoil of the crumbling Middle East these children found refuge in the United Kingdom. Eventually these children built their lives in the UK and were primed to become functioning members of society. The UK government granted these children only temporary forms of leave that expire once they turn 17-and-a-half. Once turning 18, they are forced to return to the same countries they fled. Many of these countries are now under the control of brutal regimes like the Islamic State and the Taliban.

The deportation of child refugees in the UK has been brought to the attention of the British Parliament. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism was behind an effort to make leading policy makers in the House of Commons aware of the increasing deportation problem. This issue was first introduced to Parliament in November 2015, but those statistics were understated by 250%. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has now given Parliament more accurate data on child deportations. Since receiving this new data, removal of the children has been temporarily halted. Lawyers representing children who are under threat of deportation argue that the security of the children’s home nations are too unsafe for their return.

The first media coverage of the story was published on February 9th, 2016 by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit organization. The majority of coverage that followed the story by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism were reposts of the original article. Though Parliament and the government are highly involved in the issue, the only corporate media that directly covers the story is The Independent UK by the same author of original story in The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The Telegraph UK reported on March 4, 2016 on Britain’s commitment to accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees this upcoming year and deny deporting any illegal immigrants, but does not cover their issue of unaccompanied child asylum seekers. All coverage on this crisis remains in the UK media.


Barrett, David. “Britain Cannot Deport Asylum Seekers Who Have ‘no Place to Go’, Says Minister.” Telegraph. March 04, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/12183475/Asylum-seekers-arriving-in-Europe-doubled-to-1.2-million-last-year.html.

McClenaghan, Maeve. “Revealed: The Thousands of Former Child Refugees Deported to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism. February 09, 2016. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2016/02/09/revealed-thousands-former-child-refugees-deported-afghanistan-iraq/.

McClenaghan, Maeve. “Refugee Crisis: Thousands of Child Asylum Seekers Deported Back to War Zones, Home Office Admits.” Independent. February 09, 2016. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-crisis-thousands-of-child-asylum-seekers-deported-back-to-war-zones-home-office-admits-a6863776.html.

Student Researchers: Bridget Baker (University of Vermont), Katie Lencioni (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)