New Refugee Council analysis shows most people arriving by small boats across the Channel are likely be fleeing persecution - Refugee Council
November 17, 2021

New Refugee Council analysis shows most people arriving by small boats across the Channel are likely be fleeing persecution

A new analysis published by the Refugee Council today reveals that the men, women and children who come across the Channel in small boats are likely to be allowed to remain in the UK as refugees with only just over a third of those arriving not being deemed in need of protection.

The report, An analysis of Channel crossings & asylum outcomes, based on Freedom of Information data and Home Office statistics for the period between January 2020 and May 2021 finds that 91% of people came from just ten countries where human rights abuses and persecution are common. These include Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Yemen.

According to the Home Office 98% of people coming across the Channel apply for asylum. The report sets out the likely outcome of their asylum claims, based on what is known as the grant rate, meaning that people will be able to remain in the UK. It shows that the majority of people crossing the Channel are likely to be recognised as being in need of protection at the initial decision stage.

Overall for the top 10 countries of origin arriving by small boat, 61% of initial decisions made in the 18 months to June 2021 would have resulted in refugee protection being granted. This compares to the grant rate of 52% for decisions made for all nationalities in the same period.

The report shows that for Syrians the grant rate is likely to be 88%, for Eritreans  84%,  for Sudanese and those from Yemen 70%, for Iranians 67%, for Vietnamese 65%, for people from Kuwait 61% and for Afghans 56%.

If an asylum claim is refused by the Home Office at the initial decision stage, the applicant has a right of appeal to an independent Tribunal. The report shows 59% of appeals are likely to be allowed for the top 10 countries of origin, compared to 46% for appeals allowed for all countries.

The report highlights that there are extremely limited alternative ‘safe routes’ available for many of the top nationalities crossing the Channel. The UK did not resettle a single person from Kuwait, Yemen or Vietnam in the period January 2020 to May 2021 and only one person from Iran was resettled.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:

“The reality is that people who come to the UK by taking terrifying journeys in small boats across the Channel do so because they are desperately seeking safety having fled persecution, terror and oppression. Their lives have been turned upside down through no fault of their own and they are exploited by callous people smugglers.

This government should show compassion by welcoming those who need refugee protection rather than seeking to cruelly push them back across the channel or punish them with imprisonment. At the same time, there needs to be an ambitious expansion of safe routes so people don’t have to take dangerous journeys to reach safety.”

The report calls into question the government and Home Office’s narrative that the majority of people crossing the Channel are not in genuine need of protection. It says the  government should rethink its new Borders Bill and calls for:

  • An ambitious expansion of existing safe routes including both resettlement scenes and refugee family reunion.
  • A humanitarian visa system to allow people to apply for a visa to enter the UK for the purposes of claiming asylum, thereby reducing the need for people to make dangerous journeys across the Channel
  • A recognition that many people seeking asylum will have no other option other than making an irregular journey as recognised in the 1951 Refugee Convention, and therefore they need to be treated fairly and humanely by being granted a fair hearing on UK soil. The government need to put in place an efficient and effective asylum decision-making system with timely decisions that are of high quality so people do not have to wait for months or years for an outcome on their case.