Revealed: The thousands of former child refugees deported to Afghanistan and Iraq

Thousands of young people who sought refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum seekers have since been deported to war torn countries that are in part controlled by Islamic State, the Taliban or other repressive regimes, a Home Office minister has admitted.

James Brokenshire said that over the past nine years 2,748 young people – many of whom had spent formative years in the UK, forging friendships and going to school – had been returned to the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

The bulk – some 2,018 – have concerned Afghanistan, but an investigation has found that 60 young people have also been deported to Iraq since 2014, the year so-called Islamic State began its brutal regime in swathes of the country.

The findings, which were triggered by questions from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Labour MP Louise Haigh, raise serious concerns about what happens to child asylum seekers when they turn 18, and at a time when Britain is being urged to help thousands of orphaned child refugees from Syria.

The figures were supplied by Brokenshire this week when he was also forced to apologise for previously providing the Commons with inaccurate numbers in November that understated the scale of deportations by 250%.

The error was spotted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The figures: number of former unaccompanied children removed 

The latest Home Office figures show that in 2015, 57 former children were sent back to Afghanistan.

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A version of this story was published in the Independent.

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