“[A refugee shall be considered to be a person who] owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”
Under the above definition, refugees make up 0.24 per cent of the UK’s population, according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). Asylum seekers are those waiting for a decision on refugee status, while stateless persons are not considered to have nationality in any country.
The UK has the fifth highest asylum application numbers in the EU, according to the Home Office.
Under the Detained Fast Track system, asylum seekers are usually held in immigration detention centres during their application and – if failing the application – appeal. In the year ending March 2015 – the latest statistics available – there were 25,020 asylum applications in the UK. This is a low from 2002 when 84,132 claimed asylum in the UK.
Country by country, 85 per cent of claims from Eritrea and Syria result in grants of stay, while only 22 per cent of Pakistani applicants succeed, according to the Home Office.
Stays in detention are generally short, 63 per cent of the people leaving detention spent less than 29 days in a detention centre. But the Home Office does not discriminate in its statistics between asylum seekers and people detained for seeking immigration illegally. Among these were 121 children, a fall from 203 in 2014. There were 1,986 claims from unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the year ending March 2015, according to the Home Office.
Once an asylum seeker is granted refugee status, their situation is still precarious. Around four per cent become homeless, according to the Home Office’s 2014 Survey of New Refugees.