The number of Afghan children discovered being smuggled through Dover has risen dramatically in the last 12 months after a surge in violence between Taliban and Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Kent county council in south-east England picked up 265 smuggled Afghan children between April 2007 and March 2008 a 55 per cent increase on the previous year. Close to half of all foreign children suspected of being trafficked or smuggled through Britain’s busiest ports now come from Afghanistan.
Kent’s reception facilities are full, mostly with Afghan boys fleeing violence, and one in five go missing after being taken into care. The authorities suspect they enter the hidden economy or fall into exploitation elsewhere in Britain.
Death threats from the Taliban and pressure to undertake suicide bombing missions are among the reasons for fleeing given by the Afghan children.
Speaking at a council reception centre in rural Kent, Khalid, the 17-year-old son of a Taliban farmer killed two years ago, explained that his brother threatened to kill him if he did not join the Taliban too.
“I was forced to leave Afghanistan because of pressure from my brother and other members of the Taliban to join their forces and take part in suicide bombings,” he said.