Migrants and refugees was written in September 2015
It seems ages since I wrote a blog. Work and proper writing interfering with Internet broadcasting.
As it is all over the news I thought I would add my views on the current crisis impacting Europe. Refugees and migrants are attempting to escape their own countries and find a hoped for better or safer life in Europe. The European politicians of all persuasions struggle to come up with a suitable soundbite that can demonstrate a caring attitude whilst maintaining their pre-held opinions. The UK is held up as either not doing enough or doing far too much, whilst facts are mangled and as usual the politicians throw as much mud as possible. There are multiple aspects to this. First some of my definitions:
- Migrant – an immigrant or transitory person for whatever reason
- Refugee – someone escaping persecution or seeking safety – can be internal to a nation as many in Syria already are
- Asylum seeker – Someone who claims that there is a fear of persecution or worse in their own country and thus seeks asylum – but can also be some person hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
- Economic migrant – someone seeking a better life for themselves – in and out of UK
The humanitarian urge to do what we can, evidenced in Hungarian people doling out food and water to walking migrants (most may well be refugees), is only one aspect. There needs to be a practical assessment of what can be done realistically. For example Turkey is host to 2 million Syrian refugees escaping the civil war of which ISL or Dash is only one element http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=224
So let’s try and stick to facts – the UK net population increase (official government 2013 figures) due to migration was 300,000. The vast majority of these 200,000 were from the EU. These are either family and friends of existing residents or economic migrants searching for work in a growing economy. These are all legal migrants as no one has accurate figures on illegal migrants i.e. persons form outside the EU. The remainder are those that have temporary or permanent rights to stay e.g. students or key workers.
We then have asylum seekers, some key points from http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migration-uk-asylum
- Asylum applications (excluding dependents) rose from 4,256 in 1987 to a peak of 84,130 in 2002. They stood at 24,914 in 2014.
- Asylum applicants and their dependents comprised an estimated 8% of net migration in 2013, down from 49% in 2002 but up from 4% in 2010.
- In 2014, 59% of asylum applications were initially refused. A majority of refused applicants lodge appeals. In 2014, 28% of appeals were allowed.
- Men made up nearly 3 out of 4 (73%) main applicants for asylum in 2014.
- In 2014, the UK received 5% of asylum claims made in EU countries (plus Norway and Switzerland), making it the sixth highest recipient of asylum claims.
The latest estimated migration figure for 2014 is 330,000 of which the asylum seekers make up approx 25,000 so 7.5%
I heard Kent Council state on the radio that the numbers of migrant unaccompanied children under 14 had gone from an average of 240 per year to 720 last year all of whom needed initially foster parents, schooling and support. A huge increase in workload http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-34139364
At the same time we have an alleged housing crisis with organisations like Shelter claiming we need to build 250,000 new homes per year just to keep pace with current population growth http://www.thehomesweneed.org.uk/
The UK’s population is now also growing for many complex reasons see the ONS statistics here but this adds a further 200,000 or so on top of the migration impact. Therefore, we are adding a city population the approximate size of Sheffield to our overall population every year.
On the BBC this morning it was explained that during the 1956 Hungarian uprising the UK took over 40,000 refugees. This has also been discussed as one of the tens of thousands estimates and comparisons for asylum to be offered. Note on 7 Sep the UK Prime Minister announced the number is 20,000
In terms of the overall net migration and population increase, numbers this would be a further 10% increase.
The problem for the UK and many other countries is not the humanitarian support. We have the money and the food and water. We are after all a rich nation in GDP terms. It is the very practical question of where they are going to live, go to school, get health care. We do not have many large old military bases sitting empty but they can help. Do we want tented villages near ports of entry? Where in the UK will they go. How will they be transported there? For all the claims that we must do something we need to have answers first.