Bishop of Durham asks about safe routes for people seeking asylum

On 24th January 2023, the Bishop of Durham asked a question on what forecast the government have made on numbers of people seeking asylum in the UK via safe routes in 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask His Majesty’s Government what forecast they have made of the number of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, and Sudan who will travel to the United Kingdom via a safe route in order to seek asylum in 2023.

Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): The United Kingdom welcomes vulnerable people in need of protection through our relocation and resettlement schemes. The number of people coming to the UK via safe and legal routes depends on many factors, including local authorities’ capacity to support them and the extent to which community sponsorship continues to thrive. There is no explicit provision within our Immigration Rules for someone to be allowed to travel here to seek asylum or temporary refuge.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: I thank the Minister for that Answer. We know from the latest available numbers that between September 2021 and September 2022, only close to 1,400 people were resettled to the UK through the specific safe routes of resettlement. This figure is 75% lower than in 2019, and the number of family reunion visas issued is 36% below the pre-pandemic figure. As the Minister knows, all the countries referred to in my Question have an asylum grant rate of over 80%, with Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea sitting at over 97%. The number of individuals claiming asylum from these nations stood at more than 26,500. Now that the Government are deciding admissibility on the basis of arrival, will they establish further safe routes for high grant rate countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Syria and Iran, to reduce the need for asylum seekers to travel irregularly?

Lord Murray of Blidworth: The principle is clear in the refugee convention that people claiming asylum need to be in the country in which they seek refuge, having come directly from that country. While we sympathise with people in many difficult situations around the world, we are not bound to consider asylum claims from the large numbers of people overseas who might like to come here.


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