Three-year-olds abandoned at UK ports

Children as young as three have been found abandoned at UK ports and airports, it emerged today.

British Home Office figures show 3,525 unaccompanied children under 18 applied for asylum in 2007, a 2% increase on the previous year.

Many of these youngsters were from war-torn countries or those afflicted by desperate poverty.

Around a third arrived from Afghanistan, 10% from Iran and 9% from Iraq.

In Hampshire, children were found abandoned at Southampton docks, Southampton airport and at service stations in the last year.

Of the 68 unaccompanied children, Hampshire County Council said they had placed 43, while Southampton City Council took in 19 and a further six were looked after by Portsmouth City Council.

The youngest child found by the county council was just three years old.

A spokeswoman said unaccompanied asylum-seeking children would be treated in exactly the same way as other children in the council's care.

"Our fostering service has carers who are skilled in providing the extra support needed by children requiring emergency placements," she said.

"We do whatever we can to facilitate contact with their families."

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