Desperate refugee kids aged just six are arriving in Britain without their parents, a top official revealed on Wednesday.
The children flee to the UK without their parents as part of a wave of migrants heading for British shores, a committee of peers heard.
Kent County Council’s social care director Andrew Ireland said: “I’m often left to wonder (at) the number of countries that these young people have passed through, some of whom clearly are well under the age of 18.
“Some are clearly borderline, but many are not.
“How, not so much the immigration or nationality legislation, but straightforward child protection activity in some other countries allows that to happen so that they arrive in Dover or through the Channel Tunnel, some 13, 14, some as young as six recently.”
Mr Ireland admitted children so young travelling without their parents was “very exceptional.”
The council later confirmed a six-year-old child arrived among a group of unaccompanied asylum-seeking under-18s.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “This clearly highlights concerns about very young, unaccompanied children arriving in the UK who might be at risk of being trafficked or sexually exploited.
“Some of them may be fleeing war zones and persecution only to potentially fall prey to offenders waiting to exploit their vulnerability.
“This influx will undoubtedly be challenging for local authorities but as a society we cannot potentially allow child sexual exploitation to flourish on our shores.”
Town halls have a legal duty to care for under-18s who arrive in their area from abroad seeking international protection and Kent has seen a dramatic spike in the number in its care amid the international migration crisis.
Mr Ireland told the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee the council had seen a net increase of more than 500 under-18s in the last year, creating “enormous pressure” in providing accommodation and placements.
More than 800 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are currently in Kent’s care, compared to approximately 350 at this time last year.