Migrationwatch Analysis of Asylum Figures

November 30, 2003

1. Asylum claims in 2003 are up 18% Q3 in comparison with Q2 at 14,765 compared with 12,510.

2. The percentage applying at port is down to 28% compared with 32% in Q2 and 32% in 2002 and 35% in 2001 as a whole. It appears therefore that withdrawal of benefits has not been an encouragement to apply at port.

3. We are still the top asylum destination in the industrialised world for both 2003 year to date (YTD) and Q3 alone. Our YTD figure is 47,915 compared with 43,630 for the USA and 39,099 for Germany the next highest countries in the world and Europe respectively. Our total for Q3 is 14,765 compared to 12,737 for France the second highest country in Q3.

4. Overall the 13 EU countries which the UNHCR reported figures for in Q1-3 2003 showed a drop of 14% in comparison with Q1-3 2002. For the UK the corresponding fall was 39%.

5. The UK's greater fall can probably mainly be accounted for by:
a shift in the pattern of asylum seeker source country patterns (see 6 below)
the effectiveness of the new border arrangements at the French ports.
visa restrictions - particularly for Zimbabwe which has seen a fall
in principal asylum claimants of 1395 (66%) in Q3 2003 compared with Q3 2002. 

6. In the first three quarters of 2003 the UK saw a reduction of 7,100 (67%) in principal asylum claimants  from Iraq and of 4,130 (68%) from Afghanistan. The UK was the favoured location for claimants from these countries. In contrast the UK has seen little or no change in the number of claimants arriving from Russia but, worldwide, Russian claimants have increased by 66% and Russia is now the number one source country.  Looking at Q3 statistics alone and comparing them with Q3 2002 - principal claimants dropped by 10,605 - a fall of 47%. Out of this 10,605 - 3,610 is the fall in Iraqi applications, 1,085 is the fall in Afghan applications, 860 is the fall in applications from the Czech Republic and Poland and a further 340 is from the Former USSR (mainly the Baltic States). So, these elements, together with Zimbabwe, make up 69% of the reduction. 

7. Acceptances of asylum seekers are down to 5% (I.e. only 1 in 20 is considered a genuine refugee) at the initial decision stage. A further 6% are granted discretionary leave.

8. The number of appeals determined (21,500 in Q3) remains very high and is an indication of the stress the system is still under at this stage. 20% of appeals are allowed which indicates that either the initial decisions or appeals are not being assessed correctly, or an element of both.

9. Removals were up by 9% on Q2. The number being removed, 4,655 in Q3 and 12,925 in the first three quarters of the year, is small and rising only very slowly when compared with the number of appeals rejected. This rose from 21,000 in 2000 to 60,000 in 2002 and to 50,000 in the first 9 months of 2003.

10. Data for Q2 2003 shows that removals to EU accession countries have been maintained at Q1 2003 and Q4 2002 levels of about 620 per quarter compared with 400 per quarter for the previous three quarters. These people will, of course, be allowed freely to enter the UK from next May.

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