UK ranks 14th out of 28 EU countries in accepting asylum seekers


Britain accepts fewer asylum seekers than many other European countries, figures reveal, amid growing pressure on the Government to resolve the Calais migrant crisis.

The UK ranked 14th out of 28 EU countries last year, according to per capita figures collected by the European Commission, approving 217 asylum requests per million population.

Sweden topped the table granting 3,388 approvals per million population, followed by Malta, at 3,016, and Cyprus, 1,434.

The top five was completed by Denmark, with 1,019, and Bulgaria, 975.

The UK's mid-table ranking comes despite continuing media attention on Calais, where thousands of migrants have attempted to breach fences to enter Britain.

Last year, the UK received a total of 31,945 applications, the sixth highest figure across European countries. It approved around 44% of these.

Germany received the most, 202,815, followed by Sweden who received 81,325 and Italy, with 64,625.

The data also reveal one in 20 asylum applications made to the UK last year were from unaccompanied minors.

Unde-18s made 1,860 applications, up almost 47% from the number made in 2013.

It emerged last week that the number of young migrants in Kent County Council's care has risen sharply in the last three months, leaving it with a £5.5 million funding gap in care costs.

A Save the Children spokeswoman said: "We must remember that refugees escaping wars and persecution do have the legal right to international protection. Too often they are mixed up in the debate about economic migration.

"Save the Children has called for 1,500 unaccompanied children to be relocated to the UK when they arrive in Europe, so they don't have to die trying to reach the UK or face grave exploitation on route."

Director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, Madeleine Sumption, said it was difficult to say whether some countries are more "generous" in granting asylum status than others, but admitted that the UK is receiving proportionately fewer than other countries.

She added that asylum seekers had little economic impact, and made up a "relatively small share" of migrants. The majority come to the UK for work, study, or family reasons.

Ms Sumption described recent images of migrants in Calais as "vivid", and stressed that asylum seekers were a "relatively small flow of people".

She said: "The imagery is quite dramatic and it has perhaps raised concerns about the Government's ability to control immigration and the immigration system, rather than the economic effect."

Some campaigners have argued Britain should be doing more to help refugees, beyond offering protection to those who actively seek asylum.

America resettles 80,000 refugees voluntarily in addition to the ones who show up, something which Ms Sumption says most EU countries have been "reluctant" to do.

Refugee Council head of advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle called on the Government to do more to resettle refugees.

She said: "The world is in the grip of one of the largest refugee crises ever, yet sadly the number of people able to find safety in Britain remains low.

"It's time Britain lived up to its proud tradition of protecting refugees by stepping forward and offering safe haven to more people.

"The UK Government must make a new, substantial pledge towards resettling thousands of refugees directly from the region and we must also make it easier for families divided by war to be able to reunite with their loved ones who are already living here in safety.

"For many of the world's most vulnerable people, it's quite simply a matter of life and death."