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HSE 'fails' Asylum Seeking Children

In an Irish Times article by Michael O'Regan the HSE is is accused of 'failing' in caring for asylum seeking children.  An independent investigation into Health Service Executive accommodation for unaccompanied children seeking asylum was called for by delegates to the Fine Gael ardfheis.

A Dublin South Central motion condemned the Government’s “abject failure” in that area and claimed poor supervision was the main reason that child asylum seekers were going missing from care.

Claire Byrne (Dublin South Central) referred to the case of a 17-year-old Nigerian girl, who came to Ireland as a minor, ran away from HSE care in Dublin, and was found working in a brothel in Sligo.

“These children are placed by the HSE in hostels without proper supervision and care,” she said.

Party spokesman on immigration Denis Naughten said that since 2000, 463 foreign children had gone missing from HSE accommodation after being placed in care by the Department of Justice.

Some 407 children remained unaccounted for to date.

He said it was wrong to have the Department of Justice placing foreign children in hostels which were not up to the standards of those required for Irish children.

“It is a gross dereliction of duty on behalf of the Government which has allowed these children evaporate into thin air,” Mr Naughten said.

Mr Naughten said that suspected child victims of trafficking ranged in age from 3 to 17 years. They were transported to Ireland from foreign countries for forced labour, begging, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

The HSE attitude was “disturbing”, he added.

While the HSE acknowledged its role in securing the safety of the children, the figures it released pointed to its incompetence in fulfilling its role.

“Not only has this Government failed to stop these children disappearing by failing to provide secure accommodation, but the real scandal is that many of them are not even officially listed as missing on the Garda website,” said Mr Naughten.

The conference passed a motion calling for the resignation of Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews for his “abject failure” to ensure the HSE provided adequate protection for children at risk.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times 6th April 2009

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