Home Office statistics released this week show that the number of asylum applications for the year to 31 March 2007 was 10% lower than in the previous year. This continues a general downward trend in applications over a decade.
The main countries from which asylum seekers come also continues to be those where serious human rights violations occur or which are seriously affected by warfare, with Afghanistan topping the list.
In the light of this continuing fall in applications, the Refugee Council has been critical of government proposals to further limit asylum seekers’ right of appeal from within the UK, calling this right “an essential safeguard against poor initial decision-making”.
The main points from the statistics are:
- The number of applications for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, between January and March 2007 was 1% lower (5,680), compared with October to December 2006 (5,725). It was 12% less than January to March 2006 (6,455).
- Afghanistan (755 applications) was the country of origin of most asylum seekers in this quarter, followed by Iran, China, Somalia and Eritrea. The same five countries of origin made up the top five for the full year to March 2007. There were particularly large increases in applications from Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in this quarter compared to the previous quarter.
- There were 6,005 initial decisions in the quarter. Of these, 75% were refusals, slightly down from 76% in the last quarter.
- 3,005 principal applicants were removed in the quarter. The top five nationalities for removals were were Turkish, Afghan, Serbian & Montenegrin, Iraqi and Pakistani.
- As at 31 March 2007, 1,435 people were being detained under Immigration Act powers, 50 of which were under 18. The nationalities accounting for the highest number of asylum detainees were Nigerian (95), Sri Lankan (95) and Turkish (90).