THE head of a refugee charity has condemned the practice of leaving lone child migrants in the hands of the Border Force.

Speaking to The Argus, the chairman of Sanctuary On Sea also told of the plight of the 16 refugee families who have now been housed in Brighton, many after fleeing Syria.

Richard Williams, 56, said he was deeply upset by the news earlier this week that migrant children arriving on small boats will now be left with Border Force after Kent County Council said it had reached capacity and could not “safely accommodate any more new arrivals”.

The Home Office said unaccompanied migrant children would now be kept at a “processing centre” in Dover, rather than by the local authority.

They will remain with Border Force until they can be transferred into the care of another council that can care for them safely.

“It sounds like they are being kept in detention,” Mr Williams said. “It’s shocking to think they would do this to children.”

Mr Williams believes more should be done to accommodate refugees in Sussex. Sanctuary On Sea aims to prevent migrants in the county who are feeling isolated and fearful and is helping families who have now been housed in Brighton and Hove.

Mr Williams said this has been exceptionally difficult during the coronavirus crisis.

Some families are struggling to afford food and the charity has had to co-ordinate emergency supplies.

He said many of the families he has spoken to are “bewildered” by the reception they get when they arrive in Britain.

“Many people coming to the UK have got an image in their head of it being a place of law and order that respects human rights,” he said.

“When they get here, they’re often really shocked about how terribly people are treated.

“They feel they have done nothing wrong but try to flee from war and persecution.”

Many of the families in Brighton come from Syria. More than 5.6 million people have fled the country since 2011. Civilians have been trapped in a bloody civil war and more than 400,000 people have been killed.

Mr Williams said refugees in Brighton have spoken to him about the horrors they have faced at home.

“You hear awful stories from people who have come from Syria or Kurdistan fleeing terrible things,” he said.

“But what they talk about most is being separated from their families.”

At least 164 migrants reached Britain on Wednesday in 11 boats, the Home Office said.