Memo to the press on Med crisis: UK rejected 72 per cent of asylum claims this year

Is Britain too generous as the Daily Mail implies? Not according to the data


Today’s Daily Mail is aghast to hear a United Nations official suggest that Britain should ‘take in more Med migrants’.

Peter Sutherland, UN special representative for migration, saying Germany and Sweden have granted more asylum claims during the recent crisis in the Mediterranean than has the UK, nearly earned him an editorial column in the Mail. (This appears to have been bumped for other columns).

The implication of that underlined ‘more’ is that we are already too generous, thanks very much.

But official figures from the Home Office show that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of asylum claims this year were refused by the UK.

In the first quarter of 2015, the UK received a total of 5,955 asylum applications. In the same period, the UK made 8,976 initial decisions on these and earlier applications.

Of these 5,744 were refused, while 3,232 were granted, including 2,784 on the grounds of asylum.

When you subtract 1,011 cases withdrawn by applicants, the number refused by the UK amounts to 72 per cent of decisions so far this year.

So Britain is refusing asylum to nearly three quarters of applicants.

Is this because we have more claims than other countries? No. 

According to the European Commission, the UK wasn’t even in the top five destinations for asylum seekers in 2014, coming in sixth below Germany, Sweden, Italy, France and Hungary respectively.

If you rank countries’ asylum claims by population, the UK came 19th after such economic powerhouses as Bulgaria.

And yet the UK refused to grant asylum in two thirds (67 per cent) of all application decisions in 2014.

Meanwhile, the UK has only accepted 143 out of a possible 4 million displaced Syrians as of March this year.

While overall migration numbers are certainly growing, it is wildly misleading to suggest the UK has been over-generous about granting asylum – whether during the ongoing crisis in the Med or generally over the last year.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

Daily Mail says boats of migrants should be stopped ‘by any means necessary’

Daily Mail says Syrian refugees turn Greek holiday town into ‘disgusting hellhole’

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