By Lizzie DEARDEN
Aug 18, 2015
Despite panic about the “swarms” of migrants supposedly trying to reach British shores from Calais, only four per cent of Europe’s asylum seekers are applying to stay in the UK.
Statistics from the European Commission show that 185,000 people applied for asylum for the first time across the EU in the first three months of this year, but only a tiny fraction were in Britain.
The UK stands in seventh place for claims, being far outstripped by people seeking safety in Germany, Hungary and Italy.
Here is the number of first-time asylum applications as a percentage of the EU-wide total, showing the UK on a paltry four per cent.
When the figures are adjusted to be proportionate to countries’ respective populations, the UK ranks even lower – in 17th place.
There were 114 asylum seekers for every million people already living in the country in the first three months of this year.
In Hungary, which is a major entry point for migrants taking the land route through the Balkans to reach Europe, the figure was almost 30 times that.
According to Eurostat, the largest groups of asylum seekers during the period were Kosovan, Syrian and Afghan.
Most of those lodging applications in the UK were from Pakistan, followed by Eritrea and Syria.
Around half of all first-time applications were granted in the EU last year, amounting to 104,000 official refugees in total.
For someone to be recognised as a refugee in the UK, the government must be satisfied that they are unable to go back to their own country or live safely there because of conflict or persecution.
David Cameron’s description of “a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean…wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs” was harshly criticised last month.
“We will remove more illegal migrants from our country so people know it's not a safe haven once you're there," the Prime Minister vowed.
A migrant child being rescued from a capsized boat off the coast of Libya on Wednesday
Lisa Doyle, head of advocacy for Refugee Council, told The Independent the “irresponsible, de-humanising language” should not have been used to describe the desperate men, women and children fleeing for their lives across the Mediterranean, and frequently dying in the attempt.
More than 200 people are feared to have drowned when a boat packed with migrants by Libyan smugglers capsized last week.
Only 367 passengers of an estimated 600 on board were rescued and taken to Sicily on Thursday.