Monday 29 November 2021

Refugees: A few useful facts

Did you know … ?

There is no legal way to travel to the UK for the specific purpose of seeking asylum. People must be physically present in the UK to claim asylum. (There is no such thing as a ‘refugee visa’ and UK embassies cannot process asylum applications.)

International refugee law does not require that people claim asylum in the first safe country they enter. Anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim.

Article 31 of the Convention says that recognised refugees should not be penalised for illegal entry or presence in a host country if they are fleeing persecution in another country. 

86% of the world’s refugees are in countries that neighbour their own country of origin. In Turkey, for example, there are an estimated 3.7 million refugees from Syria. In Pakistan, there are an estimated 1.4 million from Afghanistan.

In 2002, 84,132 people applied for asylum in the UK. In the year ending September 2021, the number was 37,562. 

In 2020, there were around 6 asylum applications for every 10,000 people living in the UK. Across the EU, there were 11 applications for every 10,000 people. When compared with EU countries, the UK ranked 14th in terms of asylum applications per head of population.

All these facts are easily accessible online, most of them in briefing papers prepared by the House of Commons Library. 

The home secretary, Priti Patel, is well aware of them. She chooses to ignore them. Perhaps you should make sure that your MP is aware of them as well.