Today the government published immigration statistics for the year ending June 2022. These provide stats for asylum applications, decisions, asylum support and resettlement. We’ve summarised some of the most interesting ones relating to asylum and protection here.
As with last quarter’s statistics, today’s show that the strong majority – 76% – of initial decisions made in the year ending June 2022 resulted in a grant of asylum or humanitarian protection, see this rate reach a 30-year high. This demonstrates clearly that people are coming to this country in desperate need of safety, having fled conflict, war, persecution and bloodshed, and that our government is recognising this at the first opportunity by granting them protection and the right to stay in the UK as refugees.
We can also see that there continues to be a rise in asylum applications, with the numbers of people submitting claims in the year ending June 2022 being 63,089 – an increase of 77% since 2019. This is unsurprising and the inevitable consequence of war, bloodshed and conflict taking place across the world today, putting the lives of vulnerable families in grave danger and leading to them seeking safety here. The top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Iran, Albania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, countries where various issues cause people to flee for safety, namely war, conflict, human rights abuses and criminal and sexual exploitation.
There has been much talk about the increase in the numbers of Albanians seeking asylum in the UK, with Albania producing the second highest number of asylum applicants. We know directly from extensive work with Albanian refugees that many have been trafficked and are victims of criminal and sexual exploitation. Just because a country is not at war, does not mean that it is safe for all that live there. The fact that over half of Albanians who claim asylum here are given refugee protection speaks volumes for the clear dangers these people are facing.
We remain deeply concerned by the government’s use of what are called inadmissibility rules, and the intense anxiety they are causing many people in the asylum system. Introduced at the end of 2020, these rules enable the government to effectively tell an asylum applicant that they seek to send them to enter the asylum system of another country, before assessing their asylum claim here.
Today’s statistics are a clear reminder that this policy is completely ineffective. This is shown by the fact that of the 15,898 people given this warning by Government, only 21 have in fact been sent to another country. 49% are still waiting for decision to be made, and a staggering 99% of those who have received a decision will not be sent to another country – they have been admitted to the UK asylum system.
Thousands of people have to wait years for a final decision on their claim, meaning they are left in limbo and unable to plan for their futures. The backlog in cases awaiting an initial decision continued to rise to another record high. At the end of June 2022 there were a staggering 117,945 people awaiting an initial decision, over double the number of applications awaiting an initial decision at the end of 2019 (51,228 people). Of the 117,945 people awaiting a decision, 72% (85,917 people) have been waiting for more than 6 months.
The number of people crossing the Channel in small boats continues to rise – there were 12,747 people detected arriving by small boats in January to June 2022. This was more than double the number in the same six months in 2021 (5,917).
Responding to these figures, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“The fact that more than three quarters of men, women and children are recognised as refugees is a stark reminder that we are living through a time of terrible global conflicts which is seeing many people in need of protection. The rate is particularly high for those originating from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea; the government really needs to step up its efforts to ensure people can come to the UK via safe routes and be supported to rebuild their lives here.
“It’s important to recognise that more than half of Albanians who claim asylum in the UK are given refugee protection which speaks volumes about the clear dangers they are facing. For years we have worked extensively with Albanian refugees who have been trafficked and are victims of criminal and sexual exploitation.
“We remain deeply concerned by the fact that the numbers of people living in limbo and poverty while they wait for a decision on their claim has soared to a record high. It is a major failing of this government that our asylum system doesn’t work more efficiently and humanely to prevent this happening. Instead of seeking to expel men, women and children to Rwanda, the government should focus on creating a fair, humane and orderly asylum system that speeds up decision making, grants protection for those that need it, and enables those whose applications are denied to return safely, and with dignity, to the country they came from.”