Some facts and figures
Frequently asked questions
Why does the UK take so many refugees? Don't we have our own problems?
Many people think that the majority of refugees, globally, are trying to claim asylum in the UK and that the UK Government is doing more than its fair share.
This is a myth propagated by the media. For example…
Since the the Syrian crisis began, the total population increase in the UK was 0.009% (or roughly 30,000 refugees). Lebanon's population has increased by 25% (or roughly 1,067,000 refugees).
By contrast, the UK is home to just 1% of the 29.6 million refugees forcibly displaced.
85% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their country of origin, frequently in developing countries.
Asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants – who's who
The definition of a refugee according to the 1951 UN Convention is:
A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
In the UK, a person becomes a refugee when Government agrees that an individual who has applied for asylum meets the definition in the Refugee Convention. It wil thenl ‘recognise’ that person as a refugee and issue them with refugee status documentation. Refugees in the UK are given five years’ leave to remain as a refugee. They must then apply for further leave, although their status as a refugee is not limited to five years.
ASYLUM SEEKER (person seeking asylum)
A person who has left their country of origin and formally applied for asylum in another, but whose application has not yet been concluded.
REFUSED ASYLUM SEEKER
A person whose asylum application has been unsuccessful and who has no other claim for protection, awaiting a decision. Some refused asylum seekers voluntarily return home, others are deported. For many, it is not safe to return until conditions in their country change.
Someone who has moved to another country for other reasons, such as to find work.
Why don't they just stay where they land?
There is nothing in international law to say that refugees must claim asylum in the first country they reach.
A European regulation allows a country such as the UK to return an adult asylum seeker to the first European country they reached. This means that countries on the edge of Europe have responsibility for a lot more asylum seekers than others. Some of the countries through which people travel to get to Europe are unsafe for some people. Many have not signed the Refugee Convention, meaning that people who remain there will not get international protection and not be able to rebuild their lives.
Like most of us, refugees want to live where they think they are most likely to get support, accommodation and jobs. Many factors drive where they decide they want to live…
- Countries where they have family or friends.
- Language skills; for example they may speak English or French and so are more likely to get work in the UK or France.
- Where they think they will be welcome and helped financially – because of the numbers of refugees, countries where they first land are often hostile and unable to keep them safe. They therefore move on hoping to escape destitution.
This video explains in more detail…
All the refugees are single men; why do they leave their families?
MEN AND WOMEN
Firstly, single young men are often targeted by groups like ISIS, the Taliban and others as potential recruits – and so these men have to flee in order to avoid being enlisted or killed.
Secondly, families may often only be able to send one family member to try and secure safety. So they, of course, will send their fittest/most able family member to seek asylum.
Thirdly, many of the young women who flee sadly get stuck, or are more likely to be taken into the slave trade. More women are killed on the way, which is why greater numbers of men eventually get through to Europe.
In the year ending September 2020, the UK received 2,795 applications for asylum from unaccompanied children. The majority are aged between 14 and 17 and come from Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Albania, Ethiopia and Syria.
Children are also regularly trafficked into the UK to be forced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and other forms of forced labour, including cannabis cultivation.
If these men are genuine refugees, why are they not in official camps?
These young men understand that, in the official camps, countries are selecting women, children and families for their humanitarian quota intakes.
Knowing they have little chance of success, they will, therefore, resort to their next best option. If they speak English already or have family in the UK, it is logical that they would try to make it here. [This extract and more information from Care4Calais – Refugee Crisis]