This is the monthly Refugee report with thanks to group member Andrew. Refugees and immigration remain top of the list of concerns, and sometimes anger, by many members of the public. It’s to be regretted that there is little sign of serious debate among sections of the press and politicians. The Conservatives have made a number of promises to reduce numbers to the tens of thousands. The benefits of immigrants to our society seem lost to view.
As the numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the UK continues to grow, attention is turning to ideas for the future processing of claimants. Among ideas put forward this month are from the think tank Demos with a suggestion to remove the asylum function from the Home Office to “Sanctuary UK”.
The Centre for Policy Studies has a new report out suggesting that “illegal” immigrants (anyone arriving by informal routes) should be refused, detained indefinitely and/or returned to a third country (e.g. Rwanda). This is reputed to be the system applied in Australia. The forward to the report was written by the Home Secretary, implying that she favours the ideas. The UNHCR has criticised the use of the term “illegal” in the report.
It is also reported that the government is thinking to fast track the “white list” procedure, whereby persons arriving from the list of countries deemed to be safe have no right of asylum. This is presently the case for Albania, to take a topical example, and the government plan seems to be to speed up the process of return for such claimants.
The problem of illegality was shown by the Home Secretary before the Home Affairs select committee, when she was unable to answer Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s question about what he – as a prospective asylum seeker from Africa – could do to come here legally. The answer from the Secretary and her aides was to go through the UNHCR. It should be noted that the UNHCR approach was used by only 1,066 people in 2022.
It has been confirmed that £1bn of the UK aid budget has been spent on accommodating asylum seekers and refugees, rather than being spent in countries needing aid.
Looking at numbers, the latest net migration figures (the number arriving less the number leaving) is around 500,000, a larger than normal figure following the exceptional circumstances of Hong Kong and Ukraine, plus a large number of students arriving post-pandemic.
Arrivals in small boats account for 45% of claimants for asylum.
In the last couple of months, a number of cases of diphtheria have been found among Irregular arrivals. The 50 known cases have included 1 fatality.
The Home Office has produced a report on the reasons asylum seekers come to the UK, and their main conclusions are that social networks are important, but that neither economic benefits nor the perceived level of granting rights are particularly pull factors.
Finally, it has just been announced that Refugee Week 2023, the 25th in the series, will run from 19th to 25th June and the theme will be “compassion”…