'Not age appropriate': Jenrick defends painting over children's characters on mural at asylum centre

11 July 2023, 20:32

Cabinet Meeting in Downing Street
Cabinet Meeting in Downing Street. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

The minister who ordered the Kent Intake Unit children's mural to be removed has defended his call, saying the characters on the wall were not 'age-appropriate'.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick was accused of inhumanity after the Kent Intake Unit for unaccompanied child asylum seekers painted over a mural of welcoming children's characters.

He told the House of Commons that the reception centre was painted over because it was not age-appropriate to the children who would be arriving.

Read More: Channel migrants are often 'lower-skilled people' and represent 'burden on the British state', Robert Jenrick tells LBC

Read More: 'It's not happened in North Korea, it's happened in Kent!': James O'Brien reflects on refugee mural cover-up

Jenrick insisted the centre was “high quality” and offered “appropriate support” to incoming minorrs.

The mural at the children's asylum centre in Kent has been painted over on orders from Robert Jenrick
The mural at the children's asylum centre in Kent has been painted over on orders from Robert Jenrick. Picture: Getty

“The cohort of unaccompanied children who passed through last year were largely teenagers and we didn’t feel the site was age-appropriate, but it does contain a range of support for children and infants,” Mr Jenrick said.

“Nothing about the decoration of sites changes the fundamentals that if someone comes to the UK we will treat them with decency and compassion at all times.”

The Freedom From Torture charity accused the government of “losing sight of its humanity” after the changes were reported.

Backlash has erupted as Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, ordered the removal of a cartoon character mural at an asylum centre for unaccompanied children.

James O'Brien stated his outrage at the Immigration Minister's latest order to remove murals at a refugee centre in Kent, exclaiming: "You can't support this, nobody supports this."

Mr Jenrick also ordered the removal of colourful welcome signs, as he wanted to make clear the centre was a "law enforcement environment" and "not a welcome centre".

Former Tory bigwig Jenrick has been under fire for the "inhumane" decision
Former Tory bigwig Jenrick has been under fire for the "inhumane" decision. Picture: Getty

James continued stating: "You can't possibly think the news is going to filter back to Kabul or Calais that there are no longer any Tom and Jerry cartoons on the wall of the Children's Asylum Processing Centre in Kent.

"Therefore, these two boys, these two children are no longer going to make the journey".

Mimicking the hypothetical reaction of migrants to the news, James stated: "Oh, no, let's not do that anymore, they've taken down the pictures of Mickey Mouse or Tom and Jerry."

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said Mr Jenrick gave the order as he visited the Kent asylum intake unit earlier this year.

Addressing a Refugee Week event, hosted last week by the Wiener Holocaust Library, Mr Solomon said the pictures were designed to put lone children at ease.

Mr Solomon continued noting an encounter he had with two Afghan boys at the centre who were “absolutely terrified” after a “horrifying journey” to the UK which involved travelling across Europe and then into the UK boarding a small boat to cross the channel.

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