Asylum applications in the UK have hit an all-time high, sailing past 5,000 in the month of October alone – more than double the number arriving per month at the beginning of 2015. Critics have called the figure “another nail in the coffin” of the government’s migration targets.
More than a million migrants have arrived in Europe by sea or air over the last twelve months, swarming in from the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia in a bid to begin a new life in the west. Many more have headed west from the Balkan states, leading to Germany registering more than one million asylum claims alone during 2015. Sweden and France have also seen high levels of immigration.
And the UK is no different. According to official figures from Eurostat, October saw 5,095 migrants and their dependents claim asylum in the UK. That represents the highest figure in a single month since the statistic was first recorded in 2009, up from 2,270 a month at the start of 2015, The Telegraph has reported.
The figures come just days after a think tank called on Prime Minister David Cameron to admit that his target to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands was effectively “dead”. It urged Mr Cameron to be honest with the British public and admit that even if he achieves reform to migrant benefits as hoped, numbers are unlikely to be significantly affected.
Sunder Katwala, British Future’s director, said: “Most people now know that being in the [European Union] with free movement means high immigration. It’s better to have real-world plans to manage the impacts of migration – on welfare costs, housing, public services and integration – than promises that are unlikely to be kept or believed.”
Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs committee reiterated that the figures are a death knell to the “tens of thousands” immigration promise.
“These statistics are another nail in the Government’s commitment to reduce migration to the tens of thousands,” he said.
“It is important that we know where these applications are coming from, and that the Government develops a coherent, defensible and transparent policy in processing asylum requests.”
Despite attempts by pro-immigration voices to equate the recent immigration influx with the war in Syria, the statistics showed that only ten percent of the newcomers were registered as Syrians. Nearly one in eight were from Eritrea. Mr Cameron has promised to take in a further 20,000 Syrian migrants directly from the Middle East by 2020.
In total, more than 150,000 asylum applications were made in Europe in October. The vast majority, 54,870, were lodged in Germany. Sweden was the next most popular destination, with 39,055 applying for asylum there in October alone. Britain was the eighth most popular destination, but is arguably harder to reach thanks to the English Channel.
The European Union has predicted that three million more migrants will arrive in Europe in 2016.
Responding to the British figures, the Home Office explained that Eurostat’s figures were higher than its own figures because they included dependants seeking asylum, not just the main applicants.
A spokesman said: “The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need our protection.
“All claims for asylum are considered on their individual merits, and where people establish a genuine need for protection from persecution, refuge will be granted.
“However, if people do not need our protection they are expected to leave the UK and we may remove them if they do not go voluntarily.”