Syrian children among deportees

Maldon and Burnham Standard: The Home Office said Britain needed to prevent "asylum shopping", where people made numerous claims for asylum to derive benefits The Home Office said Britain needed to prevent "asylum shopping", where people made numerous claims for asylum to derive benefits

Twelve Syrian children were deported from Britain last year along with 43 other compatriots, Home Office figures show.

Almost all the Syrians (53) were asylum seekers looking for a safe haven in Britain - but none were sent back to the war ravaged country.

Among those deported were five girls and four boys younger than 14-years-old, along with one more boy and two girls who were under 18, one of which was aged between 14 and 15.

Just under half of the asylum seekers who were subject to "enforced removals" (23) were sent to destinations marked as "unknown" or "other", while the remaining 30 were sent to European Union countries.

The Home Office could not provide details of where the children were sent or which countries were included in the "other and destination unknown" category.

The two other Syrians who were not seeking asylum were deported to EU countries.

Enforced removals take place when it has been established that a person has breached UK immigration laws.

A Home Office spokeswoman said Britain needed to prevent "asylum shopping", where people made numerous claims for asylum to derive benefits.

Those who had already claimed sanctuary in another safe country or had a visa for another such nation would therefore not usually be allowed into the UK.

But specific details were not available for why each Syrian was deported.

The spokeswoman also pointed to Britain's "proud history" of granting protection to those who needed it and said 1,100 Syrians were given refugee status in the year to September 2013.

She said people were only deported "when it is safe or reasonable to do so".

The Home Office spokeswoman said: "The UK has a proud history of granting protection to those that need it and recognised 1,100 Syrians as refugees in the year to September 2013.

"However, we need to prevent cases of 'asylum shopping', where individuals make numerous claims for asylum to derive benefits rather than protection.

"Where an individual has already claimed asylum in another safe country, or if they already have a visa for that state, we would not normally consider their asylum application in the UK.

"Instead, we would seek to return them to that safe country and their asylum claim would be processed there.

"Third country returns are usually processed under Dublin Regulations, but we can also return individuals to countries outside the European Union.

"Individuals are only removed to countries when it is safe and reasonable to do so."

Syria's brutal civil war has now killed more than 140,000 people.

The fractured conflict has also driven 2.3 million people to neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, according to United Nations figures.

The UN estimated in July that 6.5 million Syrians had been forced out of their homes and displaced within the country while fleeing the fighting between Bashar Assad's regime, the rebellion and the numerous extremists that have infiltrated the conflict.

In January, the Government confirmed plans to accept hundreds of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees, with the scheme targeted on those considered to be most at risk, including the survivors of torture and sexual violence.

The move was announced after concerted political pressure from Labour to join the UNHCR's refugee quota scheme but Britain will instead run its own programme, with UN help.

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