`UN High Commissioner for Refugees praises system’ 1st December 2010: Even as European Commissioner for Human Right has suggested Europe should accept more refugees in need of safe resettlement, the UK Border Agency has claimed the UK is top on the list of countries granting protection to those in need.
In fact, it has claimed only last year the UK granted protection to more individuals than any other EU country.
Commenting on the removal of failed asylum seekers, director of criminality and detention David Wood said: ‘The UK has a proud tradition of granting asylum to those who genuinely need protection. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has praised the system that the agency uses to assess the quality of asylum decision making. In 2009 the UK granted protection to more individuals than any other EU country.
‘Those who do not qualify for asylum are given the opportunity to leave voluntarily, if they refuse then the agency will enforce the law and remove those here illegally humanely and as a last resort.’
The assertion comes soon after it emerged the UK was resettling fewer than its quota of refugees.
Only recently the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg had, in fact, stated Europe should accept more refugees in need of safe resettlement.
The UNHCR estimates that annual resettlement needs amount to some 800,000 refugees. European Governments between them have offered to accommodate only 80, 000 annually. This leaves 90 per cent of the world’s 800,000 refugees stranded in uncertain circumstances with no prospect of resettlement for 10 years.
The UK deals with refugee resettlement primarily through its Gateway Protection Programme. In summary under this programme, the UNHCR refers cases to the UK Border Agency who then go on to asses these cases individually.
Cases are examined with a view to establishing whether those referred are refugees, people at risk of human rights breaches and whether they are unable to sustain long-term security and have a lack of local integration in the country where they have initially sought refuge.
The UK accepts only 2 per cent of the total. Its current resettlement quota for the year is a mere 750. Figures are not presently available to verify whether this was met last year. Past figures, however, rather embarrassingly show that the UK has consistently resettled fewer refugees than its quota would allow for. The figures are: 150 (2004), 70 (2005), 355 (2006), 465 (2007), 640 (2008)
The Commissioner had also highlighted the disparity between the numbers of refugees received by America and Europe. Europe accommodates only 14 per cent of the world’s refugees. In contrast the USA accommodates seven times more refugees than European countries and some African states host more refugees than all of Europe put together. In fact 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are today living in developing countries.