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UK sees record level of asylum applications

The number of people claiming asylum in the UK has reached its highest monthly level for more than six years, new figures indicate.

Claims covering a total of 4,305 main applicants and any dependants were lodged in the UK in July, provisional data shows.

It is the highest tally in any single month since comparable records started in January 2009, Press Association analysis found.

It is also only the second time a monthly total has exceeded 4,000 over the same period. The previous peak was 4,020 in March 2009.

The statistics, compiled by the EU's data agency Eurostat, suggest there has been a sharp jump in asylum applications in the UK since the global migrant crisis escalated.

They showed that in April, 1,950 applicants and any family members lodged claims in this country - meaning the number has increased by 120% in four months.

The UK currently has the fourth highest total for July in the EU, behind Germany (37,525), Hungary (31,285) and Sweden (8,060). However, a number of countries that routinely receive more applicants have not yet provided figures.

July saw the height of the emergency at Calais, with thousands of migrants attempting to cross the Channel on a nightly basis. There were warnings then that Kent County Council faced a £5.5 million funding gap after the number of unaccompanied children claiming asylum doubled in three months.

Britain has faced calls to take more refugees as Europe struggles to cope with the largest mass movement of people since the Second World War.

Earlier this month, David Cameron announced plans to take 20,000 people from camps around war-ravaged Syria after the publication of photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned with his mother and brother trying to cross from Turkey to Greece by boat.

The first refugees to be accepted under the expanded resettlement programme arrived in Britain earlier this week, while the Prime Minister pledged an extra £115m in aid as European leaders held an emergency summit on the crisis.

However, the UK has refused to take part in a scheme to relocate 160,000 migrants from Greece and Italy.

Figures published by Eurostat last week showed Britain received one in 30 of all the asylum claims made by new applicants in the European Union between April and June.

The Government does not publish its own monthly data, instead using quarterly figures because they are considered "more robust".

There were 25,771 asylum claims lodged by main applicants in the year ending June 2015, according to the most recent Home Office figures. This was an increase of a 10th compared to the previous year, but well below the peak number of more than 84,000 in 2002.

Alp Mehmet, of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tighter immigration restrictions, said: " These figures show that far from not taking our share of refugees, the UK is doing so at just about record levels and on top of the highest ever net migration figure.

"Integrating such numbers is becoming increasingly difficult."

Official figures released last month showed that net migration to the UK - the difference between the number of people entering and the number leaving - was at a record of an estimated 330,000 in the year to March.

However, Anna Musgrave, of the charity Refugee Council, said the new data on asylum seekers " show that despite the world being in the grip of one of the worst refugee crises ever, Britain is barely feeling the effects".

She added: "It's important to put these figures in perspective: more refugees arrive in Greece in a single day than have claimed asylum in Britain in a whole month.

"As a global leader, Britain should be stepping forward to offer to help protect a greater number of the world's refugees."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need it and each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.

"Where people establish a genuine need for protection, or a well founded fear of persecution, refuge will be granted."


From Belfast Telegraph