22:00 GMT21 January 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    Human rights charity Amnesty International (AI) has hit back at reports in the British media that that the UK's asylum application process is being abused.

    In response to claims that more than a third of asylum applications are made after the applicant has arrived in the UK, Steve Symonds, refugee program director for AI UK said the situation did not arise as a result of an abuse of the system.

    "It's about unfair rules and a process which is routinely failing people in need of safety and asylum," Symonds said.

    "It's hardly surprising that so many people are unwilling or unable to claim asylum on arrival in the UK as government policy and practice has long been to deter asylum claims, which itself promotes a lack of trust in the system."

    ​According to recent Home Office figures that have been analyzed by London newspaper The Times, 83,912 asylum claims were made by people "encountered by local immigration and enforcement staff," between 2005 and 2014, which means that they did not apply on immediate arrival to the UK.

    The figures released by the Home Office in a written parliamentary answer reveal that the majority of those claims were made in 2014 when a total of 11,035 people claimed asylum after arriving in the UK compared to just 2,150 in 2005. 

    Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz told the Times:

    "It is deeply concerning that a third of all asylum applications have been made by illegal migrants and overstayers.

    "The very principle of seeking asylum is that you feel persecuted at the time you arrive, not saying you feel persecuted after arriving illegally or for different reasons and then remaining in the country until you are apprehended," Vaz said. 

    "This is a significant clog in the immigration system, and we should ensure that this is not to the detriment of vulnerable people with a legitimate claim of asylum. It is one thing for the [UK] government to say it's tough on illegal immigration — it's another to actually take control of issues like these."

    ​Meanwhile, Steve Symonds suggests that "very few" refugees from around the world travel to the UK.

    "Those that do, often do so because of family and other connections, or because they've found only insecurity and hopelessness elsewhere."

    Symonds also points out the reality for many asylum seekers in the UK.

    ​"The UK offers no asylum visa to permit their travel, despite the fact they cannot claim asylum unless they get here, so forcing people to rely on smugglers and false documents."

    However, the analysis of the figures offered by the Times and reported in the UK press suggests that the UK asylum application process is being "abused" by illegal immigrants and "overstayers." 

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    unfair decision, asylum applications, UK, Refugees, asylum policy, asylum seekers, abuse of power, abuse, asylum, UK Home Office, Amnesty International, Theresa May, Afghanistan, Europe, Syria, Iraq, United Kingdom
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