Today the Government has issued its quarterly immigration statistics up to the end of June 2019.
The figures reveal that the number of asylum applications was 32,693 in the year ending June 2019, a 21% increase on the previous 12 months. The top five nationalities applying for asylum in the year to June 2019 were Iranian, Iraqi, Albanian, Eritrean and Pakistani.
The rate of applications granted asylum or protection at initial decision stage was 44% in the year ending June 2019, up from 39%.
The total backlog in cases pending an initial decision increased from 30,027 at the end of March 2019 to 31,887 at the end of June 2019. Of these, 17,007 (53%) had been waiting for longer than 6 months. This is a real worry, with each of these cases representing a person anxiously awaiting news of their fate and living in limbo.
What is more, the total number of unresolved cases, (which, in addition to cases waiting for initial decisions includes those cases waiting for an appeal outcome and those which are on hold), has been continuously increasing since 2014. As of the end of June 2019 these cases totaled the highest level yet, reaching 100,602.
The statistics also show that there has been a significant increase in the numbers of asylum applications from unaccompanied children seeking asylum. There were 3,223 applications from these children, 31% more than the previous year. Unaccompanied children seeking asylum accounted for 10% of total asylum applications in the latest year. These children will require specialist treatment and support, but tragically none of them will be able to reunite with their family, which we know has a catastrophic impact on their ably to fully settle here, and move on.
Dr Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy and Engagement at the Refugee Council, said:
“We welcome the increase in the grant rate at initial decision stage, as it is important that the Home Office recognises those in need of protection at the first instance, rather than through the appeals system.
“We are increasingly concerned about the rise in delays during the asylum process, as reflected in the number of people awaiting an initial decision for more than six months and those cases that remain unresolved. We urge the Home Office to address these delays as a matter of urgency.
“Once again we continue our call to Government to provide more safe and regular routes for travel so that people who have lost everything are not forced to risk their lives on treacherous journeys to find safety. Widening the overly restrictive rules around which family members can join refugees who are already in the UK would be a hugely important step in the right direction.”