Unaccompanied child asylum seekers level rises 46%
The number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK has increased by almost half, official figures show.
A total of 2,168 migrants aged under 18 applied for asylum in the year to June.
This was an increase of 46% compared to the previous year, when there were 1,488.
The rising number of children and teenagers arriving in the UK came under scrutiny earlier this month during the height of the Calais crisis.
It emerged that the number of young migrants in Kent County Council's care jumped sharply, leaving it with a £5.5 million funding gap in care costs.
The latest figures, published by the Home Office alongside migration data on Thursday, showed that there were 518 applications from unaccompanied minors in the most recent quarter.
Boys made up the vast majority of claims, while there were 46 from girls.
The Home Office said that despite the recent rise in applications from unaccompanied children, they remain below a peak of 3,976 in 2008.
Asylum was granted in two thirds of the cases (67%) in which there was an initial decision in the year to June, a fall compared to the 72% rate recorded in the previous year.
Overall the number of asylum applications stood at 25,771, an increase of 10% compared with the previous year.
The Home Office said the number remains low relative to the peak number of applications in 2002, when there were more than 84,000.
There have been calls from charities for Britain to do more to help people caught up in what they said is the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Dr. Lisa Doyle, of the charity Refugee Council, said: "Globally, more children have been forced to flee their homes alone than at any other time since records began.
"The vast majority are fleeing brutal conflict and instability in Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan and many of them will have witnessed the death of a family member or have been abused themselves.
"A very small proportion of these children have sought safety in Britain; arriving completely alone, bewildered and frightened, in a desperate quest for peace and safety. The UK is right to look after them as we would other children who can't live in peace with their families."