Today the Government has issued its quarterly immigration statistics up to the end of March 2018.
The figures reveal that the number of asylum applications decreased by 8% in the year ending March 2018. The statistics also show that the countries of origin with the largest numbers of asylum applicants were Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and Bangladesh.
Figures released today show the Government is on track to meet its pledge to resettle 20,000 refugees affected by the conflict in Syria by May 2020. Nearly 11,400 refugees have now been welcomed through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) since its expansion in 2015.
Alongside Refugee Action, we have called for the Government to make a new commitment to resettlement post-2020, supporting UNHCR’s call for refugee resettlement to be expanded to welcome at least 10,000 people affected by global conflicts and persecution each year through one consolidated programme.
In response to this, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“The Government can quite rightly be proud of what’s been achieved with resettlement in the UK. Every day we see its truly transformative impact on people who have survived unimaginably difficult situations and are given the vital chance to rebuild their lives in safety.
“But as millions of people remain displaced worldwide, the need or resettlement remains urgent. We urge the Government to build on this great success by establishing an ambitious and well resourced resettlement programme from 2020 that responds effectively to global conflicts. Global leadership in this area is essential and we urge the Government to provide it.”
Refugee family reunion
As part of the Families Together coalition, we are campaigning to enable more refugee families to be reunited in safety in the UK. Current rules surrounding eligibility are overly restrictive, which means that families that have been torn apart by conflict are kept apart – just when they need each other most.
Today’s Home Office statistics show that 1,950 family reunion visas were issued in the first three months of 2018. This compares with 1,294 visas issued over the same period in 2017, or 5,218 visas over the full year to December 2017.
In response to this, the Refugee Council, Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross and Oxfam said in a joint statement:
“That 1,950 refugees living in the UK have been able to be reunited with the family members they desperately miss and need is great news. First-hand experience tells us that reuniting refugee families gives them the best chance of living settled and fulfilling lives.
“But the fact remains that many refugees are not able to pass the current restrictive rules and complicated process which is difficult to navigate without legal support. Child refugees have no right to reunite with their loved ones. Neither do siblings. Others will struggle to gather the necessary paperwork or will not be able to afford legal help.
“The Home Secretary should change these restrictive rules so that more families can be reunited in safety.”
To find out more about the work of the Families Together coalition go to http://refugeestogether.co.uk