Police in the West Midlands discovered a teenage boy wandering on the M6 motorway on Wednesday night, who they believe is a child migrant.
The Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) said they found the 15-year-old after responding to reports of a pedestrian on the motorway near Birmingham.
They believe the boy, who is understood to be from Iraq, entered the country illegally and has no idea where his parents are.
The CPMG said in a statement: "He was split up from his parents a few days ago, and doesn't know which country they're in.
"It's impossible to imagine how scared someone would be, not knowing where they are, not knowing where their parents are, unable to speak the language.
"We've taken him to a place of safety with food and water until social services can come and take him to care.”
Officers sent to reports of a pedestrian on the M6 #Birmingham.— CMPG (@CMPG) December 18, 2019
We found a young boy who had illegally entered the U.K. He was split up from his parents a few days ago, and doesn’t know which country they’re in.
As police, our priority is ALWAYS to protect life. #CMPGspecials pic.twitter.com/gbwYeflX9x
The teenager now faces a drawn-out and "very complex legal situation" regarding his immigration status and ability to stay in the UK, said Lucy Leon, a migration policy worker at the Children's Society charity.
She told PA: "To have lost one's parents and be in a country you do not know is an experience no child should ever have to go through and he is likely to be traumatised, bewildered and overwhelmed.
"The young boy will be put into the care system, given a social worker and placed with an emergency foster family.
"Unfortunately the care he is given may not have the specialist knowledge needed.
"We think it is vital he should also be given an independent legal guardian to represent his best interests, ensure his voice is heard and that he understands the complex immigration process he is about to embark on."
Read more from Yahoo News UK:
The issue of people smuggling has taken a front seat recently after the discovery of 39 bodies inside a lorry in Essex.
All victims were Vietnamese nationals who are thought o have been smuggled into the country as migrants or in human trafficking.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistic showed that an estimated 212,000 more people moved to the UK long-term in the last year than left.
The figures for the year ending in June look at people coming to the country with the intention to stay for 12 months or more.
After peak levels of more than 200,000 in 2015 and early 2016, annual EU net migration has dropped and now stands at 48,000.
West Midlands Police told Yahoo News that the matter has been passed to immigration.