The latest asylum statistics for the final quarter of 2006 were released by the government today together with an initial analysis for 2006.
The total number of applications for asylum (excluding dependants) fell to 5,275 in the quarter, and to 23,520 for 2006, down 9% on the previous year. Top applicant nationalities in the last quarter were Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea, China, Somalia and Iraq.
Anna Reisenberger, Acting Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, made the following statement:
“For another year, we have seen the numbers of people claiming asylum fall. This would be a good thing if we thought the world was a significantly safer place. Sadly, almost daily reports from places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia among many others remind us this is not the case.
“Many far poorer countries are taking the responsibility for those fleeing war-torn and violent places. Jordan and Syria, for example, are currently hosting over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees¹, compared with 950 applications for asylum from Iraqi nationals in the UK in 2006². It is of great concern to us that the UK, by continually making it harder to claim asylum here, is not fulfilling its responsibility to protect those whose lives are in danger.
“Then there are those who made it here but who have been refused protection. Many of these are from countries so dangerous they cannot go back, and so are left homeless and destitute with not even the right to work to support themselves.
“We urge the government to turn its attention away from numbers, and towards ensuring that offering safety to people fleeing for their lives is restored to the heart of government policy on asylum.”
Over the year, 10% of the initial decisions granted on asylum (7% in 2005). The number of these initial decisions made dropped by 23% from the previous year, but the number of appeals against these decisons received by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal fell by 40% to 14,865 for the year. Of these, 23% were successful, up from 17% in 2005.
In 2006, 16,250 principal applicants for asylum were removed from the UK, 18% higher than in 2005. This figure includes both voluntary and enforced removals. Including dependants, this figure rises to 18235, 16% higher than in 2005. Within the last quarter, the top 5 nationalities for removal were Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
The numbers of children detained for immigration purposes at the end of the last quarter was 45. (15 of these had been in detention for over one month, for which ministerial approval must be given in each case). The number detained has steadily increasedf through 2006, with 15 in the 2nd quarter and 20 in the 3rd quarter.
The Government press release relating to this announcement made the following main points:
“The Prime Minister’s tipping the balance target has been met for the first time over a full year, with more failed asylum seekers removed from the UK than made unfounded claims. The figures show that in 2006 asylum applications hit their lowest level since 1993, whilst the number of removals and deportations by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate hit an all-time high.”
The press release also notes that applications to other European countries increased while applications to the UK fell.