Today sees the release of the latest stats on asylum and protection, including how many people claimed asylum in the UK in the last three months, the different outcomes of asylum decisions, interesting information about countries of origin and other features of the asylum system.
We’ll start with the good news; 48% of decisions made in the last year (to the end of September 2019) were grants of asylum or humanitarian protection. This means the government has accepted that the risk of harm to those people if they were returned to the country from which they fled is so high that they need to stay here to be safe.
In addition to the refugees brought here under resettlement programmes that means the UK has protected the lives and futures of 19,480 people in the last twelve months. The majority of those resettled have fled Syria, but due to the number of conflicts and human rights abuses the world over, we see many different nationalities seeking asylum here. The top countries of origin in the last year were Iran, Iraq, Albania, Eritrea and Pakistan.
Today’s information is not all positive however; the number of people waiting for an initial decision on their claim continues to rise. At the end of the year ending September 2019, 26,125 people had been waiting for six months or more which is the highest since records began almost ten years ago.
The number of people seeking asylum who were locked up in detention has also risen and almost two-thirds of these were released into the community. This makes many of us question whether there was ever a need to deprive people of their liberty in this way.
And although just over 6000 people have been granted visas to join their refugee family member here in the UK, there remain many more families separated because of the restrictive rules on who is allowed to apply. Unaccompanied refugee children are denied the right under Immigration Rules to ask for anyone to join them in safety, including even their parents and siblings.
Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “The fact that more people who have come to the UK in a desperate search of safety are being given the protection they need through grants of asylum is very positive news. These are people who have had their lives all but destroyed in brutal conflicts including the Syrian war, and it is so important that Britain welcomes them here and gives them a chance to rebuild their lives.
“That said, we are very concerned at the time it is taking incredibly vulnerable people to be given news of their fate. Record numbers of people are having to wait for six months or more for even an initial decision on their asylum claim. This means thousands of people living in limbo, not being able to move on with their lives and living in desperate worry about what the future may hold. As we have done so many times before, we call on the Government to address this issue as a matter of urgency.”