MWUK examines government asylum claims

June 02, 2003

Migrationwatch UK has cast doubt on whether the government has yet 'turned the corner' on asylum applications with the release of figures that show the recent downturn was due to special factors.

The asylum statistics issued by the Home Office on 22 May showed an unexpectedly large drop of 7,385 in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the previous quarter's total of 23,385.

applications by Iraqis fell by 2,245 presumably due to events in the region.
applications from Zimbabwe fell by 1,685 as a result of the
introduction of visas.

Another significant factor is the reduction in "in-country" applications by 30% from most countries and 50% from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia. This accounted for 2,330 of the drop. The restriction of benefits to late applicants is clearly a factor in this; the number of claimants was inflated in January the previous quarter as they brought forward claims to beat the deadline.

According to UNHCR figures there was an overall fall of 19% across Europe (with 22% of applicants coming to Britain). This may also be reflected in the totals.

A reduction in port applications would indicate improved border controls. We have identified the following falls:

Zimbabwe (visa regime) 1645
Eastern Europe (new on the safe country list) 455
Afghanistan (improved conditions there?) 295
Iraq 175
Jamaica (visa regime) 145

These account for about 90% of the reduction in port applications. The remaining 320 (or about 3 per day) could be attributed to tighter border controls.

Commenting on the analysis, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch UK said "It is now clear that more than half the drop was due to special factors. It is too early therefore to say that we have turned the corner. So we welcome the further measures the Government have foreshadowed concerning the destruction of documents and reducing the present four levels of appeal. We have called for both."

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