376 - Migration rides again | Scoins.net | DJS

376 - Migration rides again

This week a small boat filled with refugees or asylum seekers or both sank while crossing the Channel with around 30 of the 50 on board losing their lives, This has prompted yet another look at the problem this is seen to represent. Among other actions, we have a lot of posturing, finger-pointing, hand-wringing, actions that can be seen as opportunistic and surprisingly little common sense. I'm not going to try to identify all the red herrings: I'm going to try to seek the nuggets of truth.

A heartfelt commentary from Calais, perhaps yesterday, pointed out that the perception is that Britiain is a desirable target, that part of the attraction is the 'porous nature of the employment market', that it is apparently easy to disappear and survive in Britain and that it is down to Britain to make this position different. ¹ A British comment, based on looking at what works elsewhere in the world, is to demand that all boat people are returned whence they came (as the Australians are perceived to do), thus making perilous crossings in small boats no longer the profitable business for people-traffickers. A vocal component of the British response is that it is the traffickers that are the problem. Apparently in conflict with this—or maybe explaining how the traffickers are successful—we have rules that say people in distress must be rescued, so as soon as a small boat is outside French waters it is in distress and this is rescued by UK boats, perhaps not only those. 

I explained in the earlier essay the distinctions between asylum seekers and classes of migrants. An asylum seeker is supposed to claim asylum in the first country they reach (with some qualifiers about that country being able to provide asylum, which I read myself as being interpreted by the migrant). I was soon frustrated by the provision of percentage changes when I want absolute numbers; indeed this whole topic is frustratingly opaque. This may be because there are so many interests, each pulling for what it wants; many of the sites I visited claim to be providing the facts, but there is so little agreement that I ended up feeling that facts were themselves elusive.

Questions I'd like answered:

How many refugees reach Europe or the EU? Where are there some reliable figures? How many of these are asylum seekers? During the first half of 2020, countries in Europe recorded some 218,755 new asylum seekers. ... Other countries that recorded large numbers of child asylum seekers included France (9,590 children, 14%), Greece (8,385 children, 12%), Spain (8,115 children, 12%), and the United Kingdom (3,445 children, 5%).   [9] 416,600 first-time applicants for asylum in 2020. [10] Also, found a week later, [12]

 Is there a ranking of how any classes of migrant are distributed, so that one might compare say, per capita responses between nations? In the year ending June 2021, Germany received the highest number of asylum applicants (113,625) in the EU+, followed by France (87,180). When compared with the EU+ for the year ending June 2021, the UK received the 4th largest number of applicants (37,235). This equates to 8% of the total asylum applicants across the EU+ and UK combined over that period, or the 17th largest intake when measured per head of population. [3] under §2.2, International comparisons:-       In the year ending June 2021 (the latest available comparable statistics), the fall in UK asylum applications was smaller than falls seen more widely across Europe. The number of people (including dependants) claiming asylum in the EU+ (countries in the EU, EEA and Switzerland) decreased by 21%, and in the UK decreased by 9%.

What numbers are accepted or rejected and what happens to those rejected? 

What does 'porous' mean in regard to a UK border? ¹  

Why do we apparently have such a backlog of unresolved cases and is there a description of these cases? How much of the backlog comes from applicants (and their lawyers) refusing to accept a decision?

How does the perceived problem at the UK border stack up against the parallel problem elsewhere? Again [12] answers some of this.

Can you claim asylum in, say, Greece, and then go live anywhere in Europe, including the UK? [Yes and no; see the Dublin Regulation.]   ²  Can you claim asylum (in the UK) from outside the UK? No; and there is no asylum visa. [11].

Having read and copied a good deal of [3] I now know that, relative to the other European nations, the UK has a small share of the asylum seekers, but perhaps that the fraction determined to reach the UK has changed. But you cannot claim asylum in the UK while outside our shores, so those reaching Britain are very persistent or very effectively assisted.

Fig 4: Eurostat Asylum statistics, and Asylum applications, initial decisions and resettlement – Asy_D01 and Asy_D02

Notes for Fig 4: 1) Top 3 countries in the EU+ receiving asylum applicants in the most recent year. 2) Includes main applicants and dependants. 3) The ‘Other EU+’ category includes all other countries that are European Union member states, part of the European Economic Area, and Switzerland that aren’t included in separate categories in the chart. 4) Data for the UK is sourced from Home Office data.

Figure 4 shows EU+ asylum intake has declined in recent years, with declines in the latest 2 years due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK is a small proportion of the total UK and EU+ intake, but figures have remained fairly stable when compared with Germany or Spain, which have fluctuated more.

Please note that Eurostat data are not directly comparable with Home Office Immigration Statistics data. Eurostat figures combine main applicants and dependants, and as such that is how international comparisons have been presented in this section. For a full list of differences between Eurostat and Home Office asylum statistics, see the user guide.

UK.gov figures from [3] referring to the year to the end of September 2021 say there were 67,547 cases (relating to 83,733 people) awaiting an initial decision. In the same year there were 14,758 initial decisions made on asylum applications. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the initial decisions in the year ending September 2021 were grants of asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave. For the same period, there were 62,651 individuals awaiting a decision on their asylum application who were in receipt of support.

Of the 62,651 individuals in receipt of support, 92% were in receipt of support in the form of accommodation and subsistence (including 16,794 who were in receipt of temporary support under Section 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999)); 8% were in receipt of subsistence only;  there were an additional 6,096 people in receipt of Section 4 support, which is provided to individuals whose asylum application has been refused but they are destitute and there are reasons that temporarily prevent them from leaving the UK.

According to UNHCR statistics, at the end of 2020 there were  132,349  refugees, 77,245 pending asylum cases  and 4662  stateless persons  in the UK. The vast majority of refugees–4 out of 5–stay in their region of displacement, and consequently are hosted by  developing countries. Turkey now hosts the highest number of refugees with 3.7  million, followed by Colombia with 1.7 million.
UNHCR 2020  Global Trends  Report) Which confirms the sizes of the numbers and that relatively few end up being settled in the UK. [13] says a total number of 21,365 individuals entered the detention estate, without telling how many are typical in that state (or estate). See here, which implies that there is significant turnover and between 500-1500 in the state of detention at an y one time.

I've written before that asylum seeker numbers are swamped by other immigration.  the 2021 estimate is 247 migrants phut, about 165 thousand migrants to the UK in that year.

A piece by Matthew Parris [15], which I read in print at publication, points out that: it is generally poor countries where oppression occurs and refugees are caused; that the UK strategy, if that is what it is, seeks to thwart the intention, while keeping ot the letter of international law. [...] To cramp the smugglers' operation we must spoil their offer, which is simple: 'once you've touched British soil you're home and dry'. And it's true. The selfie-taking.. on British beaches proves it.

Parris points to [16], if you can see it. He continues with two ideas to try. One would be to throw resources at the tribunal/appeals process, but, since around 75% of appeals succeed, this rather (I'm paraphrasing) supports the smugglers' business. The second, which overlaps, is to find a way that allows us to remove those for whom refugee status fails — again, the smugglers' pitch seems all too true. Which brings him to his uncomfortable conclusion, that what we need is a full-scale national identity card scheme. And that the 1951 Geneva Convention has run its course, as what was written to resettle the displaced has reached a point at which the landed occupants cry 'Enough!'. Perhaps the point is that, when the migration is at an acceptable level, this is positive movement, but that the movement can so very easily be seen as too much.

I continue to conclude that there are, simply, too many humans.

DJS 20211125 
additions 20211206

 1. There was me thinking porous nature' was applicable to just the UK-France border. Wrong: the phrase is widely used to describe borders. See this google

2. The Dublin Regulation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_Regulation  and https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/migration-and-asylum/common-european-asylum-system/country-responsible-asylum-application_en  The Dublin Regulation aims to "determine rapidly the Member State responsible [for an asylum claim]"[1] and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State.  The principle is that the first Member State where finger prints are stored or an asylum claim is lodged is responsible for a person's asylum claim. Do read, especially how it goes wrong, such as in Greece. In 2019, the European Union (EU) Member States sent out 142 494 outgoing requests to transfer the responsibility to examine an asylum application and effectively implemented 23 737 outgoing transfers to other Member States.[32]  These four Member States Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands) together sent .. 83% of all outgoing requests in 2019.[32] From here: .The fingerprint record, known as the Eurodac system, is used to intercept false or multiple asylum claims.[10] In Ireland, two-thirds of failed asylum seekers were found to be already known to the British border authorities, a third of the time under a different nationality, such as Tanzanians claiming to be fleeing persecution in Somalia. From here: In 2014, only 8 % of the total number of accepted take back and take charge requests resulted in actual physical transfers.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/25/uk-asylum-claims-at-highest-level-since-2004-with-record-backlog-of-cases

[2] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/information/refugee-asylum-facts/the-truth-about-asylum/?gclid=CjwKCAiAqIKNBhAIEiwAu_ZLDqUJENkRcIOcqZxPycnPXAjE5spRspqPrLbWOvCpokSvGbVhIIsLthoC4IoQAvD_BwE

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-september-2021/how-many-people-do-we-grant-asylum-or-protection-to   

The UK offered protection, in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement, to 13,210 people (including dependants) in the year ending September 2021. Of these:

  • 81% were granted refugee status following an asylum application (‘asylum’)
  • 7% were granted humanitarian protection
  • 3% were granted alternative forms of leave (such as discretionary leave, UASC leave)
  • 9% were granted refugee status through resettlement schemes, although this proportion was lower than in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Additionally, 6,524 partners and children of refugees living in the UK were granted entry to the UK through family reunion visas, 8% more than the previous year.

[4] https://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/moving-europe-beyond-crisis?gclid=CjwKCAiAqIKNBhAIEiwAu_ZLDm6pOsvJ7m00gld-zEtTt6bLKS-pa79wPAaQvUUWpuDDGKRbSOOTDRoClAcQAvD_BwE

[5] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Asylum_quarterly_report  providing the chart Asylum Applicants, EU, also found at [10]

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data    leads to all sorts of information, little of which answered my questions – or, if it did, I didn't find it. You might want to search for the latest quarterly reports  'immigration and protection data', 'asylum transparency data'.

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/20/home-office-covering-up-its-own-study-of-why-refugees-come-to-the-uk      A freedom of information response dated 28 October says the material could not be disclosed because it was “likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation”. [...] Previous Home Office research into asylum seekers’ decision-making [...] says: “They [asylum seekers] are guided more by agents, the presence or absence of family and friends, language, and perceived cultural affinities than by scrutiny of asylum policies or rational evaluation of the welfare benefits on offer.”  [...]  More than 23,000 people have arrived in the UK this year in small boats, almost three times 2020’s total of about 8,500. But the overall number of arrivals is still relatively modest, certainly when compared with the number nearly 20 years ago, when UK asylum applications reached 84,132.

[8]  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41311-020-00268-y  Looks at people-smuggling. Between 2014 and September 2020, over 20,300 people went missing, presumed dead in the Mediterranean. Strikingly, this number is comparable to (or higher than) the number of fatalities recorded in many armed conflicts. Triangular diagram from [9].

[9] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=asylum+seekers+europe+2020&newwindow=1&ei=f6egYf3QFY-SsAeZubrQDg&oq=europe+asylum+seekers&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAEYBTIFCAAQgAQyBggAEAcQHjIFCAAQgAQyBAgAEB4yBggAEAgQHjIGCAAQCBAeMgYIABAIEB4yBggAEAgQHjIGCAAQCBAeMgYIABAIEB5KBAhBGABQAFgAYMIuaABwAngAgAFLiAFLkgEBMZgBAKABAcABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz

 [10] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Asylum_statistics

[11]  https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migration-to-the-uk-asylum/  Lots of good stuff here.

From January to September 2020, 98% of the people who arrived in the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats claimed asylum, but the majority of asylum seekers did not arrive by small boat.

People who originally came to the UK to seek asylum made up an estimated 0.6% of the UK population in 2019.

The share of asylum applications that received an initial decision within six months fell from 87% in Q2 2014 to 22% in Q2 2020. See Fig 7 in the report

The distribution of asylum seekers and resettled refugees is highly uneven across the UK. See Fig 8 in the report; they're shoved northwards.

Of all refugees resettled in the UK from January 2010 to December 2020, around 70% were Syrian.

When compared against EU member states, in 2020 the UK ranked 7th in the absolute number of people to whom it gave protection, including resettled refugees.


Since finishing this—as much as I ever finish one of these—I found this, which I read as much the same as I wrote above, but 20211202, about a week later. I've copied these two charts. The left-hand one is a little disingenuous, because those are short-term permissions to be in the UK, only some of which turn into long-stay. Presumably any asylum seeker who has reached here is expecting to be permanent. A few of the students stick around, but the majority return home. The right-hand chart is very good (I think) for putting our tiny part of the action in perspective.

[12]   https://theconversation.com/debunking-key-myths-about-britains-broken-asylum-system-172794?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%203%202021%20-%202136221139&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%203%202021%20-%202136221139+CID_9822ed860c347d9ba9aa3ec74225c67d&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=Debunking%20key%20myths%20about%20Britains%20broken%20asylum%20system

[13]   https://www.unhcr.org/uk/asylum-in-the-uk.html

[14]  https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/united-kingdom-shift-immigration-interrupted-brexit-pandemic

[15]   https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/its-time-we-re-examined-our-obligation-to-refugees-pdq5xzcfg

[16]  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/asylum-claims-at-highest-for-20-years-as-channel-crossings-surge-bk8kx79sq

What is left below here is remaindered from [3]

1.1 Resettlement There were 1,171 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending September 2021. This is 46% fewer than in the previous year, as resettlement levels have not yet returned to levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the year ending September 2021:

  • 66% were resettled through the UK Resettlement scheme (UKRS), and the remainder resettled via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (which both closed at the end of February 2021), or through Community Sponsorship schemes
  • the most common nationalities of those resettled were Syrian (77%), Iraqi (8%) and Sudanese (3%)
  • since the first arrivals under the new Resettlement scheme in March 2021, 775 refugees have been resettled in the UK via the UKRS

2. Asylum applications  There were 37,562 asylum applications (relating to 44,190 people in the UK in the year ending September 2021. This is 18% more than the previous year and higher than at the peak of the European Migration crisis in year ending June 2016 (36,546). As shown in Figure 2, it is the highest number of asylum applications in the UK since the year ending June 2004 (39,746), although less than half the level of the previous peak in 2002 (84,132 applications), which was partly driven by military action, conflict or political unrest in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Somalia.   [insert from 2.1: Of the 44,190 people applying for asylum in the latest year, a large proportion (64%) were males aged 18 to 49. Children accounted for 18% of total people applying for asylum. There were 3,103 applications from unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), 3% fewer than the previous year.])

3. Outcomes of asylum applications

3.1 At initial decision

In the year ending September 2021, there were 14,758 initial decisions made on asylum applications. The number of decisions was 6% fewer than the previous year, in part, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the number of decisions made has increased in the latest two quarters, the numbers remain below levels seen before the pandemic.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of the initial decisions in the year ending September 2021 were grants of asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave. The proportion of grants is higher than the previous year (49%), and higher than levels prior to 2019, when around a third of initial decisions were grants. This is in part because the number of grants has increased, returning to levels similar to those prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the number of refusals has decreased, remaining below pre-pandemic levels.

The overall grant rate can vary for a number of reasons, including the protection needs of those who claim asylum in the UK, along with operational or policy decisions. Grant rates vary considerably by nationality as the protection needs of specific groups or individuals differ, usually depending on the situation in their home country. Of nationalities that commonly claim asylum in the UK, Libyans and Syrians typically have high grant rates at initial decision (98% and 97% respectively), while nationals of India, China, and Bangladesh have low grant rates (5%, 22% and 27% respectively; see Figure 3).

3.2 At appeal

Some initial decisions (mainly, but not entirely, refusals) will go on to be appealed.

There were 4,282 appeals lodged on initial decisions in the year ending September 2021. This is 30% fewer than the previous year, in part reflecting the smaller number of applications processed due to the pandemic and the smaller number of applications refused in the latest year, but this continues a downward trend for numbers of appeals lodged since 2015.

Of the appeals resolved in the year ending September 2021, almost half (48%) were allowed (meaning the applicant successfully overturned the initial decision). The proportion of appeals allowed has risen from 29% in 2010, when the time-series began.

3.3 Applications awaiting outcomes

At the end of September 2021, there were 67,547 cases (relating to 83,733 people) awaiting an initial decision (41% higher than the previous year). The number of cases awaiting an initial decision has shown an overall increase in the last ten years, and more rapidly since 2018.

Data on the total number of cases in the asylum system (‘asylum work in progress’), including cases awaiting appeal outcomes and failed asylum seekers that are subject to removal from the UK, is published in the ‘Immigration and Protection’ data of the Migration Transparency Data collection. The latest data available (for the end of June 2021) shows a total of 125,316 cases in the ‘work in progress’.

4. Support provided to asylum seekers

People in the asylum system who are destitute are entitled to a level of support. This could be the provision of accommodation, subsistence (cash support) or both.

At the end of September 2021, there were 62,651 individuals awaiting a decision on their asylum application who were in receipt of support, 10% higher than the previous year. This continues the trend of increasing numbers in receipt of support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Home Office temporarily ceased ending asylum support for those whose claims have been either granted or refused, to ensure people were not made homeless during lockdown. This increase is also in part related to the recent increases in asylum applications.

Of the 62,651 individuals in receipt of support:

  • 92% were in receipt of support in the form of accommodation and subsistence (including 16,794 who were in receipt of temporary support under Section 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999))
  • 8% were in receipt of subsistence only

In addition, there were 6,096 people in receipt of Section 4 support, which is provided to individuals whose asylum application has been refused but they are destitute and there are reasons that temporarily prevent them from leaving the UK.

5. Inadmissibility

From 1 January 2021, following the UK’s departure from the EU, strengthened inadmissibility rules came into effect. From Q1 to Q3 (January to September) 2021:

  • 7,006 asylum claimants were identified for consideration on inadmissibility grounds
  • 6,598 ‘notices of intent’ were issued to individuals to inform them that their case was being reviewed in order to determine whether removal action on inadmissibility grounds was appropriate and possible
  • 48 individuals were served with inadmissibility decisions, meaning the UK would not admit the asylum claim for consideration in the UK system, because another country was considered to be responsible for the claim, owing to the claimant’s previous presence in or connection to a safe country . In effect, this is application of the Dublin Convention, at footnote 2 above
  • 10 individuals were returned
  • 2,126 individuals were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum process for substantive consideration of their asylum claim

The number of returns includes both enforced and voluntary returns. Enforced returns were made to Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

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