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Asylum seekers in the UK

The number of refugees and people seeking asylum goes up and down, depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures, for example.

However, the UK has not been ‘flooded’ by those looking for safety. In fact, only 0.2 per cent of the population are refugees or asylum seekers.

Most asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they are likely to live in camps. This can be seen in the case of Syria.

Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, a staggering 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours – Turkey and Lebanon.

Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world.

Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 highest numbers came from

  • Iran
  • Eritrea
  • Albania
  • Iraq
  • Syria

Most asylum seekers will stay in the first safe country.

80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.

The number one reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here. This covers over 50% of cases.

It is also not uncommon for asylum seekers to also state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country. They may also refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.

There is no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.

There is a misconception that the majority of asylum seekers are male but this is not true.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), women and girls make up about half of any asylum seeking, refugee or internally displaced population.

However, women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. This is while the men leave the camp to take the risky and often deadly trip to another country.

Families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with the logistics. Women and children are also at much higher risk.

This may be in the form of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route.

Therefore, families may stay behind and wait until the men have applied for asylum and the rest of their family will then follow in a much safer way. This is often facilitated by the British Red Cross.

There is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum seeker.

Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country, that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

They can remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim.

It is a legal process.

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