The Truth About Refugees

The refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian issue of our generation and how we respond will define us for years to come. But with all the conflicting information out there, do we really understand it?

Let’s check the facts about refugees!

Are refugees illegal immigrants?

Refugees are absolutely not illegal immigrants. They don’t want to enter our country illegally – the problem is that they have no choice. If you come from a country that is at war or under oppression it’s unlikely that country will issue you with a passport or visa, so you have no legal way to travel.

Claiming asylum presents a legal anomaly. Asylum is a legal right, but to claim it you have to be physically present in the country and there is no legal way to get here. That’s why we campaign for ‘safe and legal’ routes; they don’t exist for most refugees.

Are refugees illegal immigrants?

Refugees are absolutely not illegal immigrants. They don’t want to enter our country illegally – the problem is that they have no choice. If you come from a country that is at war or under oppression it’s unlikely that country will issue you with a passport or visa, so you have no legal way to travel.

Claiming asylum presents a legal anomaly. Asylum is a legal right, but to claim it you have to be physically present in the country and there is no legal way to get here. That’s why we campaign for ‘safe and legal’ routes; they don’t exist for most refugees.

Do they have a genuine need for asylum?

The majority of refugees we meet come from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrean, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The Global Peace Index lists the 28 most dangerous countries in the world and all of these are included – indeed, Afghanistan is ranked as number one, Syria as two, Iraq as three and South Sudan as number four; these people are fleeing the worst and most dangerous countries on this planet.

Do they have a genuine need for asylum?

The majority of refugees we meet come from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrean, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The Global Peace Index lists the 28 most dangerous countries in the world and all of these are included – indeed, Afghanistan is ranked as number one, Syria as two, Iraq as three and South Sudan as number four; these people are fleeing the worst and most dangerous countries on this planet.

Do all refugees want to come to the UK?

More often than not, they don’t; the idea that all refugees try to get to the UK is a common, and false, misconception.

Sweden and Hungary, which both have much smaller populations than the UK, have taken several times more refugees per head of population than the UK has.

Do all refugees want to come to the UK?

More often than not, they don’t; the idea that all refugees try to get to the UK is a common, and false, misconception.

Sweden and Hungary, which both have much smaller populations than the UK, have taken several times more refugees per head of population than the UK has.

Why Don’t Refugees Stay in the First Safe Country?

As discussed here many times more refugees do stay in the first country they arrive in rather than continue their journey onwards. However, we also see cases where people first arrive in a country such as Greece, Italy or Hungary and initially do try to settle there, but, if that country has economic problems like acute unemployment or food shortages it becomes impossible for them to survive and they end up destitute in the street.

Some therefore decide to move on to France, or further, due to a desire to become independent and contribute to society. In the long term this will benefit both the refugee and the host country.

Why Don’t Refugees Stay in the First Safe Country?

As discussed here many times more refugees do stay in the first country they arrive in rather than continue their journey onwards. However, we also see cases where people first arrive in a country such as Greece, Italy or Hungary and initially do try to settle there, but, if that country has economic problems like acute unemployment or food shortages it becomes impossible for them to survive and they end up destitute in the street.

Some therefore decide to move on to France, or further, due to a desire to become independent and contribute to society. In the long term this will benefit both the refugee and the host country.

Can refugees claim housing benefits?

No, refugees cannot claim housing benefit in the UK. Asylum seekers are given an allowance of just £5.39 per day.  This must cover their food, drink, transport, clothing and toiletries; without even considering the ‘luxury’ of mobile phone credit so they can stay in touch with family back home, or a haircut, or the occasional toy for their children.

Ask yourself, “Could I live on just £37.75 for a whole week?”

Can refugees claim housing benefits?

No, refugees cannot claim housing benefit in the UK. Asylum seekers are given an allowance of just £5.39 per day.  This must cover their food, drink, transport, clothing and toiletries; without even considering the ‘luxury’ of mobile phone credit so they can stay in touch with family back home, or a haircut, or the occasional toy for their children.

Ask yourself, “Could I live on just £37.75 for a whole week?”

Do refugees stay forever?

Many refugees dream of returning home, where they have spent most of their lives and can be reunited with their loved ones. During 2016, the number of refugees returning home doubled.

Does Britain have space to help refugees?

It can feel like the UK is well populated, but actually urban areas cover just 10% of England and Wales; we may be living in crowded cities, but we are not living in a crowded and urbanised country.

So how is the other 90% of Britain’s land being used? Astonishingly, 50 per cent of the UK’s rural land is owned by less than 1% of our population. This is because of wealth disparity – the gap between the rich and the poor.

Does Britain have space to help refugees?

It can feel like the UK is well populated, but actually urban areas cover just 10% of England and Wales; we may be living in crowded cities, but we are not living in a crowded and urbanised country.

So how is the other 90% of Britain’s land being used? Astonishingly, 50 per cent of the UK’s rural land is owned by less than 1% of our population. This is because of wealth disparity – the gap between the rich and the poor.

Where are they coming from?

More than half of refugees globally came from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.

These are all countries that have been ravaged by war in recent years, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It is this immediate danger to life, human rights violations, and humanitarian catastrophe that is forcibly driving refugees out of their country of origin.

Where are they coming from?

More than half of refugees globally came from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.

These are all countries that have been ravaged by war in recent years, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It is this immediate danger to life, human rights violations, and humanitarian catastrophe that is forcibly driving refugees out of their country of origin.

Is Britain’s asylum system tough enough?

Yes. The UK asylum system is strictly controlled and complex. It is very difficult to get asylum as the decision-making process is extremely tough and many people’s claims are rejected.

It is true that initial Home Office decision-making remains poor, but the appeals process provides a significant control. In 2016, the courts overturned Home Office decisions in 41% of asylum appeals.

Is Britain’s asylum system tough enough?

Yes. The UK asylum system is strictly controlled and complex. It is very difficult to get asylum as the decision-making process is extremely tough and many people’s claims are rejected.

It is true that initial Home Office decision-making remains poor, but the appeals process provides a significant control. In 2016, the courts overturned Home Office decisions in 41% of asylum appeals.

Why do refugees have smartphones?

Refugees have mobiles phones as they are the last lifeline back to the families they have left behind, who may still be in danger, and their primary hope of getting to a secure place of shelter. They use them to update their families on their perilous journeys, and to try to make sense of their route in an alien and often dangerous context.

Making calls to other continents is too expensive and in third world countries the lines are unstable, so they need smartphones to use free WIFI networks and apps like WhatsApp and Viber.

Why do refugees have smartphones?

Refugees have mobiles phones as they are the last lifeline back to the families they have left behind, who may still be in danger, and their primary hope of getting to a secure place of shelter. They use them to update their families on their perilous journeys, and to try to make sense of their route in an alien and often dangerous context.

Making calls to other continents is too expensive and in third world countries the lines are unstable, so they need smartphones to use free WIFI networks and apps like WhatsApp and Viber.

Why are there more men in Calais?

In the countries where they are from, such as Syria and Afghanistan, young men are often primary targets for recruitment by radical groups like ISIS and the Taliban.

In Sudan, young men may be killed to stop them rebelling against the government and in Eritrea they can be conscripted for what is effectively a life sentence. For all these reasons, men as young as 13 and 14 have to run away from their homes and their families.

Why are there more men in Calais?

In the countries where they are from, such as Syria and Afghanistan, young men are often primary targets for recruitment by radical groups like ISIS and the Taliban.

In Sudan, young men may be killed to stop them rebelling against the government and in Eritrea they can be conscripted for what is effectively a life sentence. For all these reasons, men as young as 13 and 14 have to run away from their homes and their families.

Where are most refugees currently hosted?

Most of the world’s refugees are currently hosted in the world’s poorest countries. In 2016, developing regions hosted 84% of the world’s refugees, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

Moreover, the very least developed countries are stepping up their efforts, hosting a growing proportion in 2016 of 28% of refugees worldwide.

Where are most refugees currently hosted?

Most of the world’s refugees are currently hosted in the world’s poorest countries. In 2016, developing regions hosted 84% of the world’s refugees, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

Moreover, the very least developed countries are stepping up their efforts, hosting a growing proportion in 2016 of 28% of refugees worldwide.

What is a refugee/asylum seeker?

Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution; it is too dangerous for them to return home, and they need sanctuary elsewhere. If these people don’t get asylum there are potentially deadly consequences.

An asylum seeker is someone who has arrived in a country and asked for asylum. Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker.

What is a refugee/asylum seeker?

Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution; it is too dangerous for them to return home, and they need sanctuary elsewhere. If these people don’t get asylum there are potentially deadly consequences.

An asylum seeker is someone who has arrived in a country and asked for asylum. Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker.

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