The British government is set to start deporting child asylum seekers back to Afghanistan, it has been reported.
The UK Border Agency is planning to set up a £4 million "reintegration centre" in Kabul so it can start sending back children who arrive in Britain unaccompanied.
They hope to send back 12 boys a month, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Apparently there are more than 4,200 unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain, with those from Afghanistan being the largest group.
Until now, child asylum seekers have not generally been sent back to their own countries and they have been looked after in local authority care homes.
However Norway has also announced plans to open a reception centre in Kabul and the Guardian reports that Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are also planning to start sending back Afghan children.
But the move is controversial with human rights organisations complaining that children could be put at risk.
Simone Troller of Human Rights Watch told the Guardian: "Before deporting vulnerable kids to places like Afghanistan, EU governments need to make sure it is in the children's best interests."
The Guardian reports that the UK Border Agency tender document for the £4 million centre says it intends to "provide reintegration assistance for Afghans whose return home is being enforced by the UK government because they have no right to remain in the UK".
The contract says that there will be 12 young Afghan males, aged 16 and 17, who will be sent back each month and kept in the reintegration centre until they are 18.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, told the Guardian: "No one should be encouraging children to make dangerous journeys across the world.
"Therefore we are looking to work with other European countries, such as Norway, and valued international partners, such as Unicef, as well as the Afghan government, to find ways to help these young men and women in their home countries and to return those who are in the UK safely to their home nations with appropriate support once they arrive."
However the Refugee Council's chief executive, Donna Covey, told the newspaper: "There has been little said about how these children would be kept safe ... if they have no family to whom they can be returned safely, should they be returned at all?"
What do you think? Should these children be sent back?
Source: The Guardian
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