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3.1.16
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This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

Asylum statistics

Asylum applications in the UK increased by 41% to 36,465 in the year ending June 2016, the highest number of applications since the year ending June 2004 (39,746). Numbers of asylum applications in the first two quarters of 2016 (8,228 in January to March and 7,810 in April to June) have been considerably lower than in the last two quarters of 2015 (10,231 in July to September and 10,196 in October to December), although still higher than the same quarters a year earlier.

In the year ending June 2016, the largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Iran (4,910), followed by Iraq (3,199), Pakistan (2,992), Eritrea (2,790), Afghanistan (2,690) and Syria (2,563). Most applications for asylum are made by people already in the country (90% of applications in the year ending June 2016) rather than immediately on arrival in the UK at a port.

In the year ending June 2016, the number of initial decisions on asylum applications decreased by 7% to 26,350. Of these initial decisions, 38% (9,957) were grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection, compared to 41% in the previous year. Separate analysis shows that for the years 2012 to 2014, 36% of decisions were granted initially, but this proportion rose to 49% after appeal. Grant rates vary between nationalities.

There were 1,936 grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection to Syrian main applicants at initial decision in the year ending June 2016. The grant rate for Syrian applicants was 87%, but some of those not granted will have been transferred to have their case assessed by another EU member state (third country), and others may have been found not to be Syrian following their application.

Estimated figures show the UK had the eighth highest number (44,000) of asylum applications within the EU in the year ending June 2016, including dependants. Germany (665,000), Sweden (149,000) and Hungary (131,000) were the three EU countries that received the highest number of asylum applications, together accounting for 63% of asylum applications in the EU in that period.

Resettlement

In addition to those asylum seekers who apply in the UK, resettlement schemes are offered to those who have been referred to the Home Office by UNHCR (the UN agency for refugees).

In the year ending June 2016, a total of 3,439 people were resettled in the UK through this process. Of these, 2,682 were also granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). In the year ending June 2016, 49% (1,308) of those resettled under the Syrian VPRS were under 18 years old, and 49% (1,307) were female.

On 7 September 2015, an expansion to the existing Syrian VPRS was announced. Through this expansion, it is proposed that 20,000 Syrians in need of protection will be resettled in the UK by 2020. A total of 2,898 people have been granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian VPRS since the scheme began. Between the start of October 2015 and the end of June 2016, 2,646 people have been resettled under the Syrian VPRS across 118 different local authorities.

On 21 April 2016, the government announced they will work with UNHCR to resettle children from the Middle East and North Africa region. The new scheme aims to support vulnerable and refugee children at risk and their families, with a view of resettling up to 3,000 individuals over the course of this parliament.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

An unaccompanied asylum-seeking child (UASC) is a person under 18, or who, in the absence of documentary evidence establishing age, appears to be under that age, is applying for asylum in his or her own right and has no relative or guardian in the United Kingdom.

There were 3,472 asylum applications from UASC in the year ending June 2016, a 54% rise compared to the year ending June 2015 (2,252). Overall, UASC applications represented 10% of all main applications for asylum. Despite the recent increase in UASC applications, they remain below the peak of 4,060 in the year ending September 2008. The nationalities that lodged the highest numbers of UASC applications in the UK were Afghan (806), Eritrean (583) then Iranian (445). These three countries contributed to more than half (53%) of total UASC applications.

Refugee camps in Europe

French authorities began clearing out the Calais Jungle camp in October 2016, with government buses shuttling migrants to accommodation centres. The following weekend there continued to be clashes between migrants and police officers with authorities firing tear gas into the crowds to restore order. What was left of the camp was razed to the ground with a number of small illegal camps springing up populated by those who had not travelled on the buses.

As opendemocracy.net (link) reported:

"In the afternoon of 26 October, Fabienne Buci, Calais' regional prefect, announced that the camp had been cleared. Anyone who saw the camp then would have reason to disagree, as they watched hundreds of unaccompanied minors sent back to the still smouldering Jungle, apparently expected to bed down among the ruins. Presumably, French authorities were too busy congratulating themselves on having successfully completed the 'operation' to worry about where these children would sleep. According to news reports it took the French authorities a full week to start moving these last inhabitants out of the wreckage."

On 16th December 2016, The Guardian newspaper reported that Calais children are having their claims rejected by UK authorities and being told to claim asylum in France.

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