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Asylum Seekers

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is his policy to refuse applications for asylum from people recently engaged in hostilities against British forces. [107666]

There is currently a hold on deciding all asylum claims from Iraqis. However, there is no question of people recently engaged in hostilities against British forces being granted asylum or Humanitarian Protection.Despite the hold, all Iraqi asylum applicants are fingerprinted and checked against the Immigration Service Warnings Index computer system. As part of the initial screening process all claimants are interviewed comprehensively about the routes and methods employed to reach the UK.Any cases giving rise to security concerns are immediately referred to the appropriate agencies.When decision-making is resumed, all claims will be considered on their individual merits against the circumstances which then apply in Iraq. But anyone who commits a war crime or is guilty of terrorist acts will be denied asylum, as the Refugee Convention requires. So, too, will anyone committing a serious non-political crime before arrival in the UK.In addition, any other person whether asylum seeker or refugee who poses a threat to national security will be denied the protection of the Refugee Convention.It will not be possible to establish a claim for asylum simply on the basis of having been a Ba'ath Party official, of having supported Saddam Hussein or having been forced to join the party or fight against UK/US troops.We do not expect Iraqis to face persecution following its liberation. We therefore envisage the progressive return of Iraqis to their country now that large scale combat operations are over. They will have an important role to play in rebuilding Iraq's economy and civic society.Arrangements will be made for senior officers to consider any claims raising security concerns, including any evidence of having fought against UK/US troops, or where anything other than outright refusal is anticipated.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are planned to reduce the number of asylum seekers who become unaccounted for after entering the country. [111297]

As part of the initial screening process asylum seekers are required to provide proof of residence at a particular address and are issued with an Application Registration Card (ARC) containing their details and fingerprints. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) maintains databases containing the information supplied, which is also recorded in the individual Home Office file. For those subject to a reporting regime, place of residence is verified during the reporting event. Measures are now in place to increase the numbers of asylum seekers subject to reporting conditions, which will reduce the numbers absconding. All applicants, and their representatives, are told of their obligation to notify the Home Office of any subsequent change of address.The Immigration Service has eight designated reporting centres to assist in managing reporting regimes and, in addition, a person may be required to report to a police station near their address. Alongside these measures systems are in place to track and monitor all failed asylum seekers.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied young people under 16 seeking asylum have been allowed into the United Kingdom in each of the last three years. [112198]

Reliable information on the entry routes of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), including when UASCs first enter the United Kingdom, is not available.The available information on applications from unaccompanied asylum seeking children is given in the table. However this data relates to applicants aged 17 or under.

Unaccompanied Children1,2,3 aged 17 or under, applying for asylum in the United Kingdom, 2000 to 2002
TotalApplied at portApplied in country
200042,7351,3951,340
20014,53,4701,6451,820
20025,65,9451,2204,725
1 Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.
2 Unaccompanied at point of arrival, and not known to be joining a close relative in the United Kingdom.
3 Figures exclude age dispute cases reported by A-CID.
4 Figures exclude cases lodged at Local Enforcement Offices and Postal Applications.
5 Provisional figures.
6 Figure not comparable to manual count data previous to 2002, which excluded LEO and Postal applications which are now reported by A-CID.
Indicative information for 2002 suggests that of the 5,945 unaccompanied asylum seeking children, under 40 per cent. of the total, are aged under 16. Comparable data for previous years for the proportion of UASCs who were aged under 16 is unavailable and could be produced only by incurring disproportional costs.Information on asylum applications from unaccompanied asylum seeking children is published annually in the statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom", a copy of which is available in the Library, and from the RDS website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration 1 .html

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of those seeking asylum in the UK from Kosovo have returned since the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic; and if he will make a statement. [112243]

I regret that information on the number of asylum applicants who have returned to Kosovo since the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic at the end of March 2001 is not available.Information on the number of principal asylum applicants from the countries of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) who were removed from the UK between April 2001 and September 2002 (the latest date for which nationality data are available) is given in the table. FRY is comprised of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, but the majority of FRY applications are thought to be from Kosovars.

Principal asylum applicants from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) removed from the UK1,2,3
Q2 2001455
Q3 2001445
Q4 2001560
Q1 2002500
Q2 2002585
Q3 2002605
Total3,155

1 Provisional estimated data, subject to change.

2 Includes persons departing 'voluntarily' after enforcement action had been initiated and persons leaving under Assisted Voluntary Returns programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration.

3 Nationality does not necessarily indicate the country to which someone was removed.

Data rounded to the nearest five.