Top 20 facts about refugees and asylum seekers

The Government published its migration statistics up until December 2017 in February 2018.

Here are our top 20 facts based on these latest asylum stats.

1-The world is in the grip of one of the worst forced displacement crises ever. Over 65 million people around the globe have had to flee their homes – that’s like the entire British population having to leave. Millions have had to leave their country entirely and have become refugees. Fortunately most of us in Britain have grown up in safety, but if we were ever to become refugees, we’d all hope that another country would welcome us.

2-It’s poor countries, not rich, western countries, who look after the vast majority of the world’s refugees. The UN’s Refugee Agency estimates that nearly nine in ten of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries.

3-The dreadful scenes still being witnessed in the Mediterranean and across Europe are a symptom of this wider, global crisis. Last year, 172, 362 people arrived in Europe via sea. Just under half were women and children.

4-The countries on Europe’s borders – Greece and Italy – are struggling to cope with the numbers of desperate people arriving. In September 2015, European countries agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees away from Greece and Italy to help ease the pressure. By September 2017, almost 27,700 refugees had been relocated.

Britain has refused to help at all and has actually been sending people seeking asylum back to countries on Europe’s borders, further adding to the chaos.

5-Given that the world is facing the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, comparatively few people make it to Britain in their search for safety.

In 2017, an estimated 668,600 people sought safety in Europe. Yet Britain received just 26,350 asylum applications, that’s a 14% decrease since the year before.

6-Shockingly, by the end of 2017 more than 14,600 asylum applications had been waiting for longer than six months for an initial decision on the case. That’s an increase from 8,820 compared with the previous year.

The total backlog in cases pending a decision totalled 28,787. Each one of these cases represents a person stuck living in limbo, anxiously awaiting news of their fate.

7-Britain is not Europe’s top recipient of asylum applications. In 2017, Germany, Italy and France all received at least twice as many asylum applications as the UK. In Germany alone, 199,200 asylum applications were made. Britain received less than 3% of all asylum claims made in the EU during last year.

8-Britain offers no asylum visa. In fact, there are very few, legal ways for refugees to safely escape their country and claim asylum in another country. The truth is, when war breaks out, countries like Britain often close down refugees’ legal escape routes. Refugees don’t place their lives in smugglers’ hands because they want to. They do it because they often have no other choice.

This lack of safe and legal routes for refugees to reach safety and claim asylum has deadly results. In 2017, 3,119 men, women and children have lost their lives during their desperate attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Every death was a tragedy.

9-People who are seeking asylum make up a tiny proportion of new arrivals in Britain. Today’s statistics show that 135.2 million people arrived in Britain in 2017 – but just 26,350 of them were seeking refuge here. Of course, not all people seeking asylum will be granted permission to stay in Britain.

10-World events often correlate directly with asylum applications; last year people were most likely to seek refuge here from the Middle East, desperate to escape on-going conflict and the murderous advance of ISIS. The top 3 countries of origin of people applying for asylum in Britain in the 2017 were: Iran, Pakistan and Iraq.

11-The British asylum system is extremely tough. Just 29% of initial decisions made in 2017 have been grants of protection (asylum or humanitarian protection). However, many refugees had to rely on the courts rather than the Government to provide them with the protection they need. The proportion of asylum appeals allowed over that time was 35%.

12-Several countries, including Sudan with high rates of refugee status at initial stage, also have above average success rates at appeal. 40% of applicants from Afghanistan were recognised as refugees at initial decision stage; 52% of Afghans who appealed had their refusal overturned.

13-War and persecution often divides refugees from their families but there are few straightforward, legal ways for refugees to safely join loved ones in Britain. One way which refugees could be allowed to travel to the UK safely is through the Mandate scheme. This enables refugees in other countries to join their family members in Britain. Sadly, this route is rarely used by the Government and just 2 people arrived as Mandate Refugees in 2017. Only 390 have arrived since the beginning of the Scheme in 2008.

14-794 children who arrived in Britain alone and under their own steam were granted asylum in 2017. Unfortunately, those children will not be allowed to bring their parents or siblings to join them in safety, as the current refugee family reunion rules do not allow for this. The top country of origin for new applications from unaccompanied children was Sudan, followed by Eritrea.

15-The UK Government has the power to detain people who are here seeking refuge. Today’s statistics show that in 2017, 27,331 people were imprisoned in immigration detention centres; among them many people seeking asylum. 54% were released back into the community rendering their detention pointless. Some nationalities are nearly always released from detention; over 90% of Iranians were released during this time period begging the question why they are detained in the first place.

16-In 2017, 44 children were locked up in immigration detention despite a Government promise in 2010 to end the practice. Only 11 of them left the country, the remainder were released, rendering their detention not only harmful but futile.

17-The number of Syrian refugees resettled in the UK now stands at 10,538 since the conflict began. In September 2015, the then Prime Minister David Cameron promised to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. That’s just 4,000 a year. There are over 4.8 million Syrian refugees.

In March 2017, the Government announced that resettled Syrians would be granted refugee status. Previously, resettled Syrian refugees were given a special form of leave to remain called humanitarian protection, which gave them slightly different rights. Unlike other refugees, refugees with humanitarian protection faced practical barriers to overseas travel and to accessing university.

18-The number of Syrians who were granted protection status in Britain, after claiming asylum, in 2017 was 682. This is a very small proportion compared to 5 million of Syrian refugees outside of Syria. Like most of the world’s refugees, very few Syrians come to Britain in their search for safety.

19-In 2017, just 813 non-Syrian refugees were resettled in Britain via the Gateway Protection Programme run in conjunction with the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Sadly, just 1% of the world’s refugees will ever be resettled which means many refugees face a long, uncertain wait to hear if they will ever be able to rebuild their lives in safety.

20-At the end of last year 44,850 asylum seekers and their dependants were being supported by the Government (under both section 4 and section 95 support). This figure has risen since 2012, but is still below the figure for end of 2003 when there were 80,123 asylum seekers being supported.

This does not mean asylum seekers live in luxury; far from it; people have no say in where they live and are often left to survive on just over £5 a day.

So what do you think?

Tell us in the comments.

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