Today the government published immigration statistics for the period ending 30th September 2021. We’ve summarised some of the most interesting ones relating to asylum and protection here
Applications for asylum have risen by 18%, which was expected to be the case as travel routes have opened up over recent months and the number of people displaced globally continues to rise. In the past 12 months, 37,562 applications were made in the UK, still much lower than in other western European countries. The top countries of origin for asylum claimants were Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria.
An additional 1,171 people were resettled, through a combination of schemes, although no figures are available for Afghans in the yet to be active Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme. This is despite the evacuation of thousands of Afghan citizens in August this year.
More decisions have been made than in the previous 12 months and almost two-thirds of decisions resulted in a grant of refugee status or humanitarian protection; initially providing safety and permission to safety for five years. This rate of protection (63%) is higher than we have come to expect in recent years. An additional 1,608 claims were granted by an immigration judge at an appeal hearing.
For many, progress on their case will be very slow. 56,520 claims had been waiting for more than six months at the end of September 2021. Our more in-depth look into this issue earlier this year found that more than 2,500 had been waiting more than three years for an initial decision in their asylum claim.
However, many people are not admitted into the asylum process immediately. Having made a claim in the UK, due to new rules introduced by the government following our exit from the EU, many claimants are initially deemed ‘inadmissible’ in the UK system. They have to wait whilst the Home Office asks other countries to consider their claim. Many such requests will be made to countries in the EU, although a tiny proportion are actually forcibly transferred to other countries under this policy.
In 2021 so far 6,598 people were told that they wouldn’t be admitted into the UK asylum system straight away, although only 48 of these have actually been deemed to be ‘inadmissible’, and of those, only 10 have been returned to another country.
Of the 6,598 people entering this process in 2021, 32% have received a decision on whether the Home Office will deem their case as inadmissible, with the vast majority (97%) of people subsequently entering the UK asylum system, after a delay of up to 6 months whilst the Home Office looked into whether they could be returned elsewhere.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“Today’s quarterly immigration statistics are critically important. What this new data shows is that nearly two-thirds of the people who make a claim for asylum here in the UK are being recognised as refugees. These are men, women and children who are in genuine need of protection and are fleeing war, persecution and violence. But the data also tells us that the system is ineffective and riddled with backlogs. 84,000 people awaiting an outcome on their initial asylum claim – the majority for over six months – reveals how so many are needlessly being left in limbo.
The Government must recognise this and instead of push-backs and punishment, address the inefficiencies in the system and commit to provide safe ways for people to get here. The Government’s ‘get tough’ reforms won’t deter people from coming. What we need is intelligent realism and global leadership, enshrined with compassion and respect for those who are desperately seeking safety.”