Top 15 facts about asylum

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26 Nov 2015

Today the Government has published its migration statistics for the year ending September 2015.

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 15 facts based on the latest asylum stats.

 1.  Asylum seekers make up a tiny proportion of new arrivals in Britain. Today’s statistics show that 636,000 people arrived in Britain in the year ending June 2015 – asylum seekers coming to Britain escaping persecution made up just 5% of that figure. Of course, not all asylum seekers will be granted permission to stay in Britain.

2. Britain is not Europe’s top recipient of asylum applications. Together, Germany and Hungary receive over half of all applications made in the EU.

From January to September 2015, Britain received around 3% of all asylum claims made in the EU.

Germany, Sweden, France, Hungary, Italy and Austria all receive significantly more applications than we do. Britain receives around the same number of asylum claims as Belgium, and slightly more than Switzerland.

3. Given the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, comparatively few people are making it to the Britain in their search for safety. So far over 860,000 people have sought safety in Europe via the Mediterranean. The UN’s Refugee Agency UNHCR estimates 84% are from the world’s top 10 refugee producing countries.

Yet between January and September 2015, Britain had received just 27,048 asylum applications, including dependants. 

4. More people arrived in Greece in a single weekend last month than have claimed asylum in Britain all year.

5. World events often correlate directly with asylum applications. On-going unrest in Syria and South Sudan and a sustained wave of people fleeing tyranny in Eritrea led to rises in applications from those nationalities. The top 5 nationalities applying for asylum in the year ending September 2015 were:
•    Eritrea
•    Sudan
•    Iran
•    Syria
•    Pakistan

6. 41% of initial decisions made in this time period were grants of some form of protection.

7. However, many refugees had to rely on the courts rather than the Government to provide them with the protection they needed. The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year ending September 2015 increased to 32%.

8. In August, we reported a shocking rise in the refusal rate of Eritrean asylum seekers because of dodgy new guidelines being used by the Home Office. Sadly, it seems many Eritrean refugees are being forced to rely on the courts to provide them with the protection they need. A startling 72% of refusals on Eritrean claims which are appealed are overturned by the courts.

9. Unaccompanied children were far less likely than adults to be granted refugee protection. Overall, 36% of decisions on asylum applications were grants of asylum, compared to just 22% for separated children. Instead, many separated children are granted short term leave to remain which expires after 2.5 years.

10. The number of Syrian refugees resettled in Britain stood at just 252 since the conflict began. The Government has promised to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

11. And the number of Syrians who have sought asylum in Britain since the conflict began stands at just 7,994. In 2015 alone, over 388,000 Syrians have arrived in Europe by sea. Like most of the world’s refugees, very few Syrians make it to Britain in their search for safety.

12. The backlog in cases pending a decision rose to 24,236, up 6% compared to the same time period last year. Each one of these cases represents a person stuck living in limbo, anxiously awaiting news of their fate.

13. At the end of September 2015, 31,896 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 live in luxury; far from it; people have no say in where they live and are often left to survive on around £5 a day.

14. In the year ending September 2015, 14,832 asylum seekers had been locked up inside detention centres at some point. Shamefully, around half of all asylum seekers find themselves detained during the asylum process. Despite the Government’s 2010 pledge to end child detention for immigration purposes, 154 children were imprisoned during this time. Two thirds of the children who left detention were released, rendering their detention not only harmful but futile.

15 In the last year, just 714 non Syrian refugees were resettled in Britain via programmes run in conjunction with the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). A truly woeful number given other countries resettle thousands of refugees. UNHCR estimates there are around 1 million refugees around the world in desperate need of a resettlement place.