Responding to the latest asylum figures, published by the Home Office today, which show that the number of asylum applications during 2005 was down 24% on the previous year, the Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, Maeve Sherlock said:
“These figures confirm what we have known for some time: that asylum applications have plummeted in recent years. The number of people given some form of protection in the UK last year was around 4,700—that’s about the same as the average weekly attendance of teams in the lowest division of the Football League.
“But it’s easy to forget when all the focus is on statistics and targets that what we”re actually talking about are people who have fled from terrible persecution. The woman journalist raped for speaking out against her government is not a statistic. The political activist beaten and tortured is not a statistic.
“The real issue here is how we treat people who come to us for help. In 2006, maybe we can take a fresh approach, banish the unnecessary fears that the public have about asylum and introduce an effective and humane system that treats asylum seekers as human beings, not numbers.’
“We are pleased that the latest figures show that more people are getting positive decisions on their asylum claims, but poor initial decision-making remains a problem. The number of successful appeals rose steadily in 2005, totalling 22% in the last 3 months of the year. The failure to get decisions right first time causes unnecessary fear and uncertainty for refugees, erodes trust in the system and is expensive for the taxpayer.”
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