The UK is facing a serious problem of stateless children, most of whom are homeless and living on the streets of London and other major cities. Records for such children do not exist and many of them have been forced into sex work and other dangerous professions to stay alive.
According to the BBC, various charities around the UK have reported instances of stateless children, found across various cities such as Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Oxford, Coventry and Birmingham.
Children for whom legal documents do not exist, cannot apply for housing or education. They may have been brought into the UK legally, but have not been integrated into social systems. Jennifer Blake, from the Safe ‘n’ Sound project said that stateless children are a major issue and that they have been approached by over 600 youth so far.
Blake has been trying to find shelter for Tony, who is originally from Uganda. Tony’s father had evicted him from his house and he now lives on the street. He has been trying to stay out of trouble (by not stealing food) so that he does not have to go to prison, but the lack of food has been causing his health to deteriorate.
People like Tony struggle to prove their citizenship, as they have lost contact with their families. However, Corem Legal Centre’s Kamena Dorling has said that local authorities have a duty to protect children regardless of immigration status.