Who are young refugees?

A group of young people on a walk

Young refugees in the UK

In 2020, over 2,000 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:

  • 91% are boys; 9% are girls
  • In 2020, the top nationalities were Sudan[18%] and Afghanistan [16%], Eritrea [13%], Iran [12%] Vietnam [11%] and Iraq [7%]. These 6 nationalities account for over 75% 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 2020, and the region continues to welcome young refugees - who arrive directly, are transferred here from the south coast, or come via international resettlement programmes.

Through research carried out by Migration Yorkshire, some of these young refugees 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


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

Sources of support and information

Advocacy and support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children: Refugee Council

Information on the particular risks and ways to support adolescent girls: Women's Refugee Commission

Support for asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced trauma in our region: Solace

Support for survivors of torture and sexual violence:

Contact for WYR

For more information, you can get in touch with us via: