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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 04:13 GMT
Asylum seeker figures
Graph showing the number of asylum applications
Last year the number of people seeking asylum in the UK reached record levels, with a total of 76,040 individual applications.

The real number of people arriving in the country is likely to be much higher, as many have dependents and others enter illegally.

But while the number of applications for asylum in the UK fell in the early 1990s, since 1996 (when about 30,000 individual applications were made) there has been a steady rise.

The second half of 1998 saw a substantial rise in applications, many of them Kosovans fleeing the former Yugoslavia.

Quick decisions

But there was an overall rise in applications from other nationalities as well and many other European countries also had an increase in asylum seekers in that period.

In total the UK had more than 46,000 applications in 1998, a 42% rise over the previous year.

Application numbers
2000 - 76,040
1999 - 71,160
1998 - 46,060
1997 - 32,400
1996 - 30,000
1995 - 44,000
1994 - 33,000
1993 - 22,000
1992 - 25,000
1991 - 44,800
The trend continued in 1999, with a 55% increase in the total number of applications (71,160) and in the number fleeing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Although the number of asylum seekers rose last year by 7%, there was also a sharp increase in the number of decisions taken on individual cases.

In 2000, decisions on the merit of the application were taken in 110,065 cases, more than three times the figure for 1999 (33,720).

Only 10% (10,185) of these were granted asylum as genuine refugees, although a further 12% (11,365) were granted exceptional leave to remain.

In 1999, 7,800 people (36% of decisions made) were recognised as refugees and 12% were not recognised but allowed to stay.

Case backlog

This left a backlog at the end of last year of 66,195 cases, compared with 101,475 outstanding applications at the end of 1999.

In 1999, just under 40% of all applications were from European nationals, 30% Asians and 26% Africans.

The leading countries were the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (17%), Somalia (11%) Sri Lanka (7%), Afghanistan (6%) and Turkey (4%).

Regional 'clusters'
East Midlands 824
Greater London 259
Kent and Sussex 191
North East 2,498
North West 3,618
Northern Ireland 30
Scotland 1,298
South Central 7
South West 391
Wales 16
West Midlands 1,435
Yorkshire & Humberside 3,825
East of England 44
The Home Office is expected to publish the figures for 2000 soon.

It has estimated that the total cost for asylum seekers throughout the asylum process, including support, healthcare, and education, for the year 2000/2001 will be 448m.

Another growing problem is finding places to house asylum seekers while their claims are processed.

More than 14,000 applicants and their dependents have been allocated to regional "clusters", to relieve pressure on councils in key areas, such as Dover and London, which have been overburdened with asylum seekers.

But many local authorities have had difficulties locating suitable accommodation, and some asylum seekers have been temporarily housed in prisons instead, making use of 500 unused remand places nationally.

An RAF barracks in Cambridgeshire has also been converted to process an estimated 13,000 applications a month.

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03 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Asylum vouchers spark protests
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