UK asylum claims have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years amid a record number of migrants making the Channel crossing, new official figures revealed today.
A total of 37,562 applications were made in the year to September, with claimants mainly from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria.
This was more than in any 12-month period since the year to June 2004 (39,746) and higher than the numbers seen at the height of the European migration crisis in 2015 and 2016 (36,546).
The figures were published by the Home Office this morning after a dinghy capsized off the coast of France, killing at least 27 migrants including a pregnant woman and a young girl.
The ‘flimsy’ grey inflatable boat was photographed by a lifeboat captain who arrived to find bodies floating in the water off Calais yesterday afternoon in the worst migrant tragedy in Anglo-French history.
More than 25,000 people have made the crossing so far this year.
This table shows the number of people granted asylum, resettlement, and family reunion visas in the UK in the year to September
The new arrivals bring the total number to have made it to the UK this month to 6,050, exceeding the previous record of 3,879 in September. This year’s total is now a record-breaking 25,772
The latest figure for asylum claims is up 18% on the year to September 2020 (31,966), although this will have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic amid restrictions on movement. There were 35,737 applications for the same period in 2019.
A total of 67,547 asylum applications were awaiting a decision at the end of September – up 41% year-on-year and the highest since current records began in June 2010.
Separate Home Office figures show the overall number of cases in the asylum system – including cases awaiting the outcome of appeals and failed asylum seekers due to be removed from the UK – stood at 125,316 at the end of June 2021, up 14% year-on-year and more than three times the number a decade earlier (37,903 in June 2011).
Two thirds of asylum seekers were granted asylum or other forms of protection after their first application, up from half in the previous year.
Meanwhile, the number of appeals lodged in the year to September was 30% down on the previous year and has been falling since 2015. Almost half of appeals were successful.
Last night, the sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of France marked the darkest day yet in the cross-Channel migration crisis.
The top 10 nationalities claiming asylum in the UK and the percentage success rate at the initial application
A comparison of the number of asylum applicants in the UK versus the three countries in the EU that receive the most applications
Two survivors – an Iraqi and a Somalian – have told police the poorly made dinghy was hit by a container ship, puncturing its thin rubber hull. Five people have been arrested in France over the 27 deaths, including one man held overnight driving a German-registered vehicle packed with inflatable rhibs.
But as Emmanuel Macron was urged to get a grip, French police again failed to stop a group of more than a dozen asylum seekers crossing the Channel in choppy conditions this morning. They were brought shivering into a freezing Dover by the RNLI at dawn.
Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies amid claims in Britain that the French have been sitting on their hands as 17 men, seven women and three children died yesterday.
A breakdown of asylum applicants in the year to September broken down by sex
Boris Johnson, Mr Macron and their ministers are expected to hold more talks today as the Prime Minister insisted that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs ‘getting away with murder’.
As relations between the UK and France become increasingly fraught, Macron’s minister in charge of the crisis, Gerald Darmanin, today blamed Britain for the crisis and claimed migrants are promised ‘Eldorado in England’ by people traffickers because of its suite of benefits and ‘attractive’ labour market.
Mr Macron is said to have ignored the renewed offer for help with patrols during his call with the PM last night with the French President, who insists he won’t let the Channel to ‘be turned into a cemetery’, again accused by critics of allowing a bitterness over Brexit for his failure to tackle migrant traffickers.
French interior minister Mr Darmanin is expected to speak to his counterpart, Home Secretary Priti Patel, this morning. He said today those migrants were ‘often attracted’ by Britain’s labour market and said the loss of 27 lives after the sinking of a migrant boat was an ‘absolute tragedy’.
He said: ‘It is Britain’s attractiveness which is to blame, including its labour market. Everybody knows that there are up to 1.2 million clandestine migrants in the UK and English business leaders use that workforce to produce things that are consumed by the English’.
He told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are ‘criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children – there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat… and for a few thousand euros they promise them ‘Eldorado in England’.
This is the first picture of the flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais yesterday, killing 27 people including five women, some of them pregnant, and three children
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the RNLI, following a small boat incident in the Channel after 27 people died yesterday
Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont has said Macron must reject Britain’s offer, saying: ‘That wouldn’t work. It would require thousands of people. And there is also a question of sovereignty. I’m not sure the British people would accept the other way round if the French army was patrolling the British shore’.
French officials today demanded even more money from the UK taxpayer to stem the flow of thousands of migrants across the Channel each month as the blame game between Paris and London over the deaths of 27 people.
As 6,000 crossed to Britain in November alone, the boss of the ports of Calais and Boulogne has insisted that Britain must start paying more on top of the £54million they give to France each year to stop people getting there by dinghy or hidden in lorries.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau said: ‘We are obliged to control each lorry to make sure there are no migrants inside. We do it for not a penny. It is gratis for your country, it costs the Port of Calais, 8 million (euros) a year to control and I want that to be discussed again with your government. That was signed when the UK was in the Europe and has no place’.
Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, blamed attractive benefits in Britain for the crisis. She said: ‘I say that enough is enough. The British government has imposed immigration control on our territory for the last 20 years. It has never had the courage to control this immigration back home. You have to react, react quickly to make it all stop.’
Police patrol a beach near Calais as the French authorities again failed to stop migrants travelling to the UK
A team of French police looked around the dunes of a beach this morning as they were accused of failing to tackle the issue