One of the 13 reports by the independent borders inspectorate finally released last week details a series of disturbing findings about unaccompanied children seeking asylum, including the appalling revelation that they were forced to play a game which involved them guessing who would be the next one to be placed in foster care (Child asylum seekers in UK made to play game about who gets foster care places, 29 February). This is distressing and dystopian.

In our work with refugee children, we repeatedly see how they are being failed. Hundreds of unaccompanied children missing from hotels still have not been found. Children systematically wrongly age-assessed are treated as adults and placed in the same bedrooms as unrelated adult strangers. There is a culture of callous disregard for children’s basic right to dignity.

It is time for the government to carry out a wide-ranging independent inquiry into the treatment of unaccompanied children who come to our country seeking safety. We urgently need to see a fundamental change towards an asylum system that is fair, humane and protects those who are some of the most vulnerable children in the country, an asylum system that sees refugee children as children who need loving care and support.

Full list of signatories 

Enver Solomon, CEO, Refugee Council

Patricia Durr, CEO, ECPAT UK

Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive, British Association of Social Workers 

Sarah Thomas, CEO, The Fostering Network

Zoe Bantleman, Legal Director, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA)

Gunes Kalkan, Head of Campaigns, Safe Passage International

Azmina Siddique, Policy and Impact Manager, The Children’s Society

Elaine Ortiz, Founder and Director, Hummingbird Refugee Project  

Nick Watts, Director, Together with Migrant Children

Amos Schonfield, CEO, Our Second Home

Gee Manoharan, Co-Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID)

Celia Sands, CEO, South London Refugee Association

Adrian Matthews, Trustee, Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign  

David Mason, Executive Director, HIAS+JCORE

Rosalyn Akar Grams, Managing Director of Legal Practice and Children’s Rights, Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Anna Skehan, Supervising Solicitor and Legal Practice Lead, Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU)

Dr Helen Connolly, Associate Professor, Children, Youth and Forced Migration, University of Bedfordshire