Who are young refugees?

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Who are young refugees?

Young refugees are children and young people who have been separated from their family and carers, and find themselves alone and seeking protection in the UK. Some of them are going through the asylum process, others have come into the UK with refugee status, others have been trafficked into the UK and been rescued from exploitation by UK authorities. First and foremost, they are young people.

Young refugees in the UK

In 2019, over 3,500 young people claimed asylum in the UK, having left their countries of origin due to conflict, persecution, political instability or other reasons. These children undertake long and difficult journeys to get to the UK. You can begin to get an idea of what it can be like for young refugees as they search for safety and opportunities, by watching seven young people's digital stories

Here's the current profile of young refugees in the UK:

  • 89% are boys; 11% are girls.
  • In 2019, the top nationalities were Eritrea [16%]; Iran [14%]; Iraq, Vietnam, Sudan and Afghanistan [12%]. These 6 nationalities account for nearly 80% of all claims.
  • Home Office statistics show the age distribution as follows:
    • Aged 16 and over: 78%
    • Aged 14–15: 20%
    • Aged under 14: 2%

Young refugees in Yorkshire and Humber

The number of young refugees arriving in our region increased significantly between 2016 and 2018. 

Some of these young refugees recently shared their perceptions and experiences with us. The young people we spoke to identified four key priorities that would improve their early experiences of life in the UK:

  • access to the internet
  • alleviate boredom
  • accelerated English language learning
  • strong relationships with carers and professionals

Read more about our research with young refugees 

Our region needs foster carers

At the moment there is a shortage of foster carers for young refugees in Yorkshire and Humber. A foster carer can make a real difference to a young refugee’s wellbeing, helping the young person take the first steps towards a successful life in the UK.

Can you help? If so, please get in touch with us and we'll answer any questions you have being a foster carer for a young refugee in Yorkshire and Humber.


We use the term ‘young refugee’ to cover all children and young people who have been separated from their family and carers, and find themselves alone and seeking protection in the UK.

You'll also come across other terms, such as:

  • separated child
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking child
  • UASC [stands for unaccompanied asylum seeking child]
  • unaccompanied minor
  • unaccompanied young refugee

Find out more


Discover more about caring for a young refugee

Contact a member of the team today:

Or visit the rest of the Welcoming Young Refugees web pages  




Page last updated: 31/05/2020 09:42:51

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