Today the Government has published its migration statistics for 2014, which include the annual asylum figures.
As we are all aware, the truth about asylum is often in short supply, with the same old myths and scare stories peddled again and again.
At the Refugee Council, we believe it’s time to put that right.
Here are our top ten facts based on last year’s asylum stats.
1. Britain is not Europe’s top recipient of asylum applications. Germany, Sweden, France and Italy all receive significantly more applications than we do.
2. Asylum applications to the UK remain low: in 2014, just 24,914 applications were received in Britain, 31,433 including dependants. Given the world is in the grips of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, few people are making it to the Britain in their search for safety.
3. World events often correlate directly with asylum applications. In 2014, unrest in Syria and South Sudan and a new wave of forced conscription in Eritrea led to rises in applications from those nationalities. The top 10 nationalities applying for asylum in 2014 were:
• Sri Lanka
4. 41% of initial decisions made in 2014 were grants of some form of protection. A contributing factor could be the high recognition rate of Eritrean (87%) and Syrian (86%) refugees.
5. There was a fall in the number of unaccompanied children granted protection, down from 73% in 2013 to 71% in 2014. Sadly, this protection usually expires after 2.5 years and many children will not go on to be given further leave.
6. The number of Syrian refugees resettled in Britain stood at just 143. A pathetic number, as the total number of Syrian refugees approaches the 4 million mark. Britain can and should be doing so much more to help.
7. The backlog in cases waiting a decision rose to 34% to 22,974. According to the Home Office, this was due to a lack of staff. Meanwhile, thousands of people continue to await news of their fate anxiously.
8. The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in 2014 was 28%. Considering decisions on asylum claims can be life or death, the fact that the Government gets over a quarter wrong first time around is astounding.
9. At the end of 2014, 29,753 asylum seekers and their dependants were being supported by the Government. This figure has increased each quarter since the end of September 2012, but is still below the figure for end of 2003 when there were 80,123 asylum seekers being supported. This does not mean asylum seekers lives in luxury; far from it; people have no say in where they live and are often left to survive on around £5 a day.
10. In 2014, 13,636 asylum seekers were locked up inside detention centres. Shamefully, around half of all asylum seekers find themselves detained at some point during the process. Despite the Government’s 2010 pledge to end child detention for immigration purposes, 99 children were imprisoned in 2014. 40 of them were younger than five.