To describe current global displacement levels as indicative of a ‘refugee crisis’ would be an incredible understatement. Nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution; and we are currently witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home, including nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. In addition, there are 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.
We can help address the refugee crisis partly by breaking down the myths and scare mongering that prevents people from effectively understanding the refugee crisis, and having meaningful discussion over how we respond to asylum seekers and their families in need.
There is a difference between an asylum seeker, a refugee and an economic migrant.
The terms asylum seeker, refugee and economic migrant are often used interchangeably in public discourse, however it is important to understand the legal distinction between each one.
An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their home country and has submitted a claim for asylum to the authorities; they have a legal right to stay in the country until a decision has been made.
A refugee, by comparison, has proven to the authorities that returning to their home country would put themselves in danger; their claim for asylum has been accepted and they can stay in the country either long-term or indefinitely. Refugees also have a legal right, under UK and International law, to bring their families over to the UK to join them.
Economic migrant is not a legal classification, merely an umbrella term used to cover any person who has moved to another country to work. Whether they are legally or illegally resident is dependent on how they entered the country, and they may or may not have a legal work permit.
The number of refugees living in the UK is low.
We’re all familiar with the scare stories about asylum seekers ‘flooding’ the UK, however when held up against statistical data the picture is different. There is an estimated 117,234 refugees living in the UK, meaning that refugees make up just 0.18% of the total UK population. The UK received 38, 878 asylum applications in 2015, with just 45 percent of these cases being granted asylum once their cases had been fully concluded. By comparison countries throughout Europe such as Germany (431,000) and Hungary (163,000) received many more; however, less still than many developing countries, that currently host over 80% of the refugee population combined.
For further information on the refugee crisis and global displacement levels, visit: