How refugee children arrive in Ipswich with nothing but their clothes
- Credit: PA
Children fleeing war and persecution arrive in Ipswich terrified, alone and with nothing but the clothes on their back, a charity has revealed.
Last year 35 children arrived in Suffolk alone having escaped from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Eritrea.
This figure has doubled since 2017, when Suffolk County Council took 17 unaccompanied minors into their care, according to an FOI by this newspaper.
Kara Mills, an accommodation project worker at YMCA Trinity in Ipswich, said the charity supports minors from the age of 16, while younger children are taken into foster care.
She said it is hard to understand the brutal regimes these children have lived with.
"Many English people would just not understand what they have been through," she said.
"They've had a really hard time in a conflict situation. They are very scared children who cannot speak our language.
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"They arrive in lorries and those rubber dinghies you see on the news.
"They have no clothes with them and the clothes on their backs are dirty."
She said they help the teenagers coming into their care to find a sense of normality.
"We get them food and work towards getting them an education and enrol them in a course to speak English."
Meanwhile their families back home are often unaware which country their child may be in, or if they even made it safely to a hospitable nation.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that since 2014, 166 migrants have been recorded dead or missing in the English Channel.
The worst disaster was just a few months ago when 27 died in the channel.
"It's very difficult for them and they are not very trusting because of all that has happened during their journey," Ms Mills added.
"They get sent here by their family and do not have any contact because it's not safe.
"We do use the Red Cross to get in contact with the family sometimes."
She added that during their time at the YMCA, the young people start to see the charity as a family and are very keen to work when asylum has been approved.
But she said the "arbitrary" Home Office asylum system means some may be sent away from Suffolk despite setting up home here initially.
"If they have not got status by 21, they can be sent somewhere completely different," she said.
"They don't get a social worker and are then on their own."