James's question: don't asylum seekers have to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach? - Refugee Council
December 2, 2010

James’s question: don’t asylum seekers have to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach?

Q: James (Facebook) – The Afghan boy’s story was so shocking. One thing that worried me (aside from his awful experiences in detention here) was the dangerous journey he made across many countries to get to the UK – why is it that none of those countries were prepared to help him, and he was forced to travel all the way here before he could get protection? I’ve heard this often happens, and wonder why people can’t claim asylum in other safe countries they reach first?

A: Francesco – Thanks James. We get asked this quite often. Most children are not in control of how they travel and where they end up; family or agents will make the arrangements and the child doesn’t really get a choice. If you think about the countries that neighbour the countries that most refugees come from well, they do have lots of refugees living in those countries; for example there have been millions of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan for many years. Where people do have some choice, what they tell is that they will go to a country where they will be safe and that has a good record of treating people fairly.  

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