Coronavirus National & International

Asylum applications to UK have reached their highest level in nearly two decades

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Asylum applications to the UK have reached their highest level since 2004, according to official estimates, according to the BBC.

Claims were up 18% on 2020 – when Covid travel limits were in place – but it is only a small increase on 2019 levels.

But net migration – which does not include asylum claims or refugees – fell by 88% last year after Covid.

The figures come after 27 people drowned crossing the channel, sparking renewed calls for changes to the way those seeking refuge are treated.

So far this year, more than 23,000 people have attempted the crossing from France to the UK by boat.

A government spokesperson said the asylum statistics “demonstrate the complex scale of the global migration crisis”.

They claimed that the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill – currently making its way through Parliament – would “ensure we are fair to those in genuine need and break the business model of criminal trafficking networks”.

However, Labour has said the bill would breach international law on refugees and “damage the UK’s standing around the world”.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton said the bill was not a “panacea”, adding: “What it will end up doing is replacing putting people up in hotels with putting people in prison.”

The Home Office figures also reveal a big backlog of asylum claims waiting to be heard, with 67,547 cases yet to have an initial decision.

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