A NEWHAM-based group is speaking up on behalf of young refugees who face having to leave the country because they came to Britain without their parents.

An open letter has been sent to the Home Secretary by the Shpresa Programme, based at the Froud Centre in Toronto Avenue, Manor Park.

The organisation works with Albanian nationals in east London and is concerned for refugees who came to Britain between 1998 and 2000 during the war in Kosovo.

In 2003 the Home Office granted indefinite leave to remain to asylum seekers with children under-18, who had claimed asylum before October 2, 2000.

However young people who arrived without their parents do not qualify.

Some were as young as nine when they came to Britain.

The Shpresa Programme's letter reads: "We are young people who have lost everything that we ever had our family members, our friends, our houses, our schools, our books and our photos.

"Though many of us have been living in the UK for five years, we still do not have a decision that allows us to stay.

"We look every day at the post for a brown envelope with a decision in it. We cannot plan our future and uncertainty follows us all day long.

"Please don't punish us one more time. Give us a chance to contribute, just as you did to all our friends of our age who are living with their parents."

Luljeta Nuzi, who set up the Shpresa Programme three years ago, said: "Many of them speak better English than Albanian and know more about the way of life here than back home. They would be destroyed if they were sent back."

A Home Office spokesman said individuals who came over as children were considered case by case rather than with a blanket policy.

"We would never return people under 18 to their country of origin unless care arrangements had been put in place," he added.