Algerians smuggle kids to Europe for better social care

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Algerian parents are risking the lives of their children by sending them to Europe aboard unsafe craft to take advantage of better social care facilities, a senior official said Monday.

"It is totally deplorable," the junior foreign minister responsible for Algerians abroad, Halim Benatallah, told Channel III radio, indicating that the same thing was happening in neighbouring countries.

The youngsters are dispatched as illegal immigrants to European Union countries, with Spain the favourite destination, he said.

Once they arrive, they are looked after by associations comprising Algerian women, Benatallah said. But when these women contact the families back home they are given the cold shoulder.

"They refuse to take the children back, and sometimes just cut off the phone," he said.

Calling the parents irresponsible, he added, "Cases like this are increasing and it is worrying (to the Algerian community in Spain)".

On January 19 Benatallah said that Spain had expelled more than 1,400 illegal Algerian immigrants last year.

He gave no figures for the numbers who left Algeria but failed to arrive because their boat sank.

© 2011 AFP

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