Two Hongkongers under the age of 18 applied for asylum in the United Kingdom between October and December, marking the first cases of “unaccompanied asylum-seeking children” in 13 years.
Britain saw a dramatic surge in applications of political asylum from Hong Kong after China imposed a national security law on the city in late June. Home Office statistics released on Thursday showed that 62 individuals applied between July and December, up from 14 cases in the first half of 2020 and 13 in the whole of 2019.
A total of 13 males and eight females from Hong Kong sought asylum in the fourth quarter of 2020. Nineteen of them were the main applicants and two were their dependents.
A boy and a girl, in particular, were classified as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, meaning asylum seekers under 18 and without their parents or guardians. They were the first such cases since 2007.
Under the Children Act, British authorities must help these applicants by providing financial support, temporary shelter or other aid, though some of the assistance may be terminated once they reach 18. Authorities are also granted the right to deny their applications and repatriate them.
The two minors from Hong Kong applied for political asylum after landing in Britain by plane. The girl, 15, is believed to be the girlfriend of Tsang Tsz-kin, a teen protester who was shot in the chest by a live round fired by a police officer during an anti-government demonstration in Tsuen Wan on Oct. 1, 2019. She arrived in London in early December.
The girl identified herself as Aurora in a Dec. 14 interview with Apple Daily. She was also arrested during the protest, she said, but was not charged because she was under 16. Aurora said in the interview that she had left Hong Kong as she was being stalked by unknown people and felt deeply that she was in danger.
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