This has to be one of the most disturbing failures of an immigration system:

More than 400 foreign children, many suspected of being trafficked into the sex or drug trade in Britain, have gone missing from local authority care. Children from Africa, Asia and eastern Europe have disappeared from safe houses and foster homes around the country’s biggest ports and airports, figures released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed.

…Anti-trafficking campaigners believe the missing children are often taken from care by their trafficker and then exploited for prostitution, domestic servitude and other illegal activities. Other children escape out of fear of being found by the trafficker and without money or identity papers fall prey to further abuse and exploitation.

Interestingly, children in these care centers are known as “unaccompanied asylum seekers.” The U.K. has made it extremely difficult for a refugee/asylum seeker to enter the country, they approach the problem with the mentality that any seeker is guilty until proven innocent of trying to defraud the system with false claims of persecution.

Let’s take a look at the 1951 Conventions on Refugees, shall we?

Refugees should be allowed to enter any signatory nation at no legal risk to themselves, and without the need for proper documentation.

Article 31. Refugees unlawfully in the country of refuge

1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.(emphasis mine)

If all the “Contracting States” respected this, there would be no need for these children (or any refugee) to be smuggled, at exorbitant costs, across borders, it would decrease the demand significantly for such services. But since governments like those of the U.K. take the stance that these peopl are “illegal” and punish them for not having proper documentation or for possessing forged documents (sometimes sending refugee/asylum seekers to prison), they feed the trafficking industry.

And also….

Article 27. Identity papers

The Contracting States shall issue identity papers to any refugee in their territory who does not possess a valid travel document.

So why is it that these children “without money or identity papers fall prey to further abuse and exploitation”? Probably because they haven’t been classified as refugees yet, they’re just “asylum seekers” – case pending. The backlog of course is tremendous, form what I’ve been reading the system is a complete administrative shambles. And the fact that children are being left in a legal limbo, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation in the drug and sex trade is damning proof of that.