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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 14:40 GMT
Government to miss asylum target
Asylum seekers at the government's offices
Asylum applications rose by 2%
The government will miss a target set by the prime minister for the removal of failed asylum seekers.

The Home Office says it needs until February 2006 to ensure more failed applicants are removed than the number of unfounded claimants arriving.

Tony Blair set the 2005 target last year amid political pressure over asylum figures.

The number of failed asylum seekers removed was 3,460, while 5,460 new claimants were initially rejected.

People from Iran accounted for the highest number of applications, followed by Eritrea, China, Somalia and Afghanistan - all nations known for their unstable situation or human rights abuses.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said the figures showed the government was taking "significant steps" towards a "firm but fair" asylum system.

But he admitted that the target set by the prime minister would be missed.

"We are continuing to work towards our target of removing more failed asylum seekers on a monthly basis than there are unfounded claims," he said.

We have taken significant steps toward our goal of a firm but fair immigration and asylum system
Tony McNulty
"We recognise this is a tough target and more still needs to be done, but we will continue to work towards this goal and expect to meet it in February 2006."

Mr McNulty defended moves to remove more failed asylum seekers, including the new plan to send people back to parts of Iraq.

The Home Office deported a group of 15 people back to the Kurdish area of northern Iraq at the weekend, a move that sparked outrage from campaign groups and concern from the United Nations.

But Mr McNulty said: "The UK has a long tradition of offering refuge to those who need it most, but those without a valid claim for asylum must recognise they have no legal right to remain here. "

The number of people arriving in the UK and claiming asylum also rose from the previous quarter, by 2%, to 6,315.

But as with many other nations, the general trend remains massively down with 27% fewer applicants than in the same period in 2004 and a 72% fall from the peak in 2002, when 85,000 applied.

Of the initial decisions on the applications, 84% were refusals, 7% granted asylum and 9% granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave.

According to the Home Office figures, asylum seekers from Serbia and Montenegro accounted for the most removals, some 440 people.

People from Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan made up the rest of the top five, many of those involved going home voluntarily.

Appeals

The quarterly figures also reveal large numbers of initial rejections being overturned on appeal. Almost a fifth of asylum seekers who appeal a rejection are being told they do have a case.

Some 49% of Eritrean asylum seekers who appeal win their case along with 39% of those from Somalia. Four in 10 people from Russia who appeal are also winning their cases.

On Iraq, 96% of applicants are rejected and just 6% win their appeals. Belgium accepts up to 66% of Iraqis as genuine asylum seekers while Germany and France roughly 15%. About a third of Iraqis are told they can stay in the USA, Ireland and Hungary.

Rejected claims compared with removal of failed asylum seekers, third quarter, 2005.
Rejected claims Removals Appeals won
July 1,870 1,090 455 (18%)
August 1,850 1,195 450 (18%)
Sept 1,770 1,170 425 (19%)
Source: Home Office. Figures exclude dependents.




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