Sunday, July 1, 2012

Soft-touch Britain, the asylum seeker capital of Europe: We let in more than anyone else last year

Britain granted asylum to more people than any other European Union country last year, official figures revealed yesterday.

Some 14,360 immigrants were given asylum within the UK in 2011, compared with 13,045 in the second highest country, Germany, and 10,740 in third placed France.

The figure was the third successive rise in successful claims in the UK and an increase of 41 per cent since 2008.

Critics said the data confirmed that Britain is a soft touch when it comes to granting asylum.  Britain also approved more than a third of asylum applications last year, while France accepted fewer than one in seven claims and Germany around one in five.

Refugees fleeing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repressive regime in Iran made up the largest group granted asylum in the UK, with 1,985 given protection status in 2011.  Another 1,160 came from Sri Lanka and around 1,020 from Afghanistan, the figures from Eurostat, the statistical wing of the EU, revealed.

The number of people granted asylum in the UK has grown steadily in the last four years, from 10,200 in 2008 to 14,360 last year.   Together, the EU’s 27 member states granted asylum to 84,100 people in 2011, an increase of 8,300 on the previous year. Most came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migrationwatch think-tank, said: ‘These figures confirm that Britain is the softest touch in Europe when it comes to grants of asylum. No wonder asylum seekers are still queuing up in Calais.’

Gill Gillespie, UK director of the Iranian Refugees Action Network, said there had been a surge in refugees escaping the Middle Eastern country following Ahmadinejad’s crackdown on dissidents after his disputed re-election in 2009.  

She said: ‘There is hardly  anything that you cannot  be persecuted for in Iran – being Christian, gay, a  journalist doing his job or just asking for equal rights for women in a country where a woman’s life is valued as half that of a man.  ‘Torture, rape, public executions and floggings are common methods of repression against those who the regime dislikes.

‘Refugees from Iran are usually highly skilled and educated, especially in engineering and maths, and offer a great deal to the UK.  ‘They are desperate to contribute and do not want to be a burden on British taxpayers.’

Last year it was revealed that nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have been ‘lost’ by bungling immigration officials.

The 98,000 were the applicants that the UK Border Agency was unable to track down from among nearly half a million cases found abandoned in boxes at the Home Office in 2006. The discovery caused a huge political row.  Those cases have now been placed in a ‘controlled archive’ – effectively put on ice indefinitely – after officials could find no trace of their existence.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: ‘Asylum seekers come to the UK because we have long history of looking after people extremely well in this country.  ‘We also speak English, the second language most people are likely to learn whichever part of the world they originate from.

‘But the number of people granted asylum remain a very small percentage of the total number of immigrants coming to Britain.’


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