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'Migrant children who are without parents or guardians in the UK depend on legal and social care professionals recognising them as children first and foremost.The conference is organised as part of the EU funded CONNECT Project, looking at practice in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden.
They are subject to a complicated series of legal procedures, courts and tribunals and a lack of communication between lawyers and other professionals can have devastating consequences for their welfare.
In addition to the immigration and asylum system, they may be wrongly charged with a criminal offence as a victim of trafficking or have to take legal action in order to dispute an assertion that they are over 18, or be a party to family proceedings because of child protection concerns.
As asylum applications from children have fallen (from around 6,000 in 2002 to just over 1,000 in 2014) many asylum seeking children teams have closed. Therefore the children who remain in the system are no longer likely to be assigned a social worker with the necessary specialist skills and knowledge to support them.
Without sufficient training and awareness of their rights, our concern is that these vulnerable children are at an increased risk of abuse or exploitation.'
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