68.5mpeople around the globe have had to flee their homes
Over 68.5 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.
The UN’s Refugee Agency estimates that 85% of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries. Most refugees just move from one poor country to another. While the pictures we may see on TV perhaps make us think that most refugees are coming to Europe, this simply is not the case. In fact, one in six people in Lebanon is a refugee.
In the calendar year 2018, an estimated 612,600 people sought safety in Europe (down 11% from the previous year).
In the calendar year 2018, many European countries received significantly higher numbers of asylum applications than the UK, with Germany and France receiving at least twice as many. In Germany alone, a total of 154,100 asylum applications were made. Britain received around 6% of all asylum claims made in the EU during last year.
Throughout 2018, 107,192 people arrived in Europe via sea. Over a third were women and children.
107,192people arrived in Europe via sea in 2018
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 smuggler’s hands because they want to. They do it because they often have no choice.
This lack of safe and legal routes for refugees to reach safety and claim asylum has deadly results. In calendar year 2018, 2,277 men, women and children have lost their lives during their desperate attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Every death was a tragedy.
In 2018, people were most likely to seek refuge here from the Middle East. The top three countries of origin of people applying for asylum in Britain in calendar year 2018 were: Iran, Iraq and Eritrea.
Today’s statistics show that 20.5 million non EEA nationals arrived in Britain in the calendar year 2018 – but just 0.14% of them were seeking refuge here. Of course, not all people seeking asylum will be granted permission to stay in Britain.
Just 33% of initial decisions made in the calendar year 2018 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 38%.
That’s by the end of December 2018, and is an increase of almost 6% from the 11,538 applications of the previous quarter.
The total backlog in cases pending an initial decision totaled 27,256. Each one of these cases represents a person stuck living in limbo, anxiously awaiting news of their fate.
12,213asylum applications had been waiting for more than six months for an initial decision
In addition to cases waiting for initial decisions, these include cases waiting for an appeal outcome and those which are on hold. From 2014 to the end of August 2018 (the latest data available), these cases totaled 88,848.
That’s by the end of 2018. 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 around £5 a day.
Statistics show that in the last 12 months, 21,690 people were put in detention in an immigration removal centre; among them 12,637 people seeking asylum. 66% of all those detained in immigration removal centres were released back into the community rendering their detention pointless.
This is despite a Government promise in 2010 to end the practice. 65% of the children who left detention were released, rendering their detention not only harmful but futile.
That’s an increase from 35% at the end of the previous quarter. A further 15% of separated children were granted short term leave to remain which expires after 2.5 years; leaving them uncertain and anxious about their futures. The top country of origin for new applications from unaccompanied children was Eritrea.
12,637people seeking asylum were put in detention in 2018
In September 2015, the then Prime Minister David Cameron promised to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 – just over 4,000 a year – and with time running out, the Government has yet to announce their future plans for this scheme – called the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
Over 12 million people have been forcibly displaced from Syria since the start of the conflict, of whom more than 6.3 million are refugees.
That’s just 0.16% of Syria’s refugees. Like most of the world’s refugees, very few Syrians come to Britain in their search for safety.
They were resettled under the Gateway Protection Programme. 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.
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 with only 18 refugees arriving via the scheme in calendar year 2018.
In calendar year 2018, 5,900 of these visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. This is an increase in 13% from the year prior.