Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, a refugee is more narrowly defined (in Article 1A) as a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”.
Amnesty International Canada extended the term refugee to include displaced persons who may fall outside the legal definition in the UN Convention, either because they have left their home countries because of war and not because of a fear of persecution, or because they have been forced to migrate within their home countries.
The Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, adopted by the Organization of African Unity in 1969, employs a definition expanded from the Convention’s, including people who left their countries of origin not only because of persecution but also due to acts of external aggression, occupation, domination by foreign powers or serious disturbances of public order.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] states ‘The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.
UNHCR estimated that there were 8,400,000 refugees worldwide at the beginning of 2006. This was the lowest number since 1980.
Asylum Claims in the UK
Home office statistics show that in 2017 the initial outcomes of asylum claims were that 68% were refused.As would be expected – attitudes, philosophies, organizational infrastructure, judicial systems and human rights vary widely around the world. As a consequence our individual life experiences are determined by whereabouts in the world we live.
In some parts of the world there is no freedom of speech and those attempting to speak out against the authorities are treated very harshly. There are places in the world where imprisonment without trial is very common. There are judicial systems that condone torture and accept in criminal prosecutions, evidence obtained in this way.
Many of those who are refused at first application have grounds for appeal. However they lose their accommodation and financial support until their appeal is prepared, submitted and accepted as an appeal. Hence they are destitute. If they are able to survive this period then the outcomes of appeals are that 37% are granted asylum. It is seen that the process is such that over half of those granted asylum are only successful because they appeal.
5,074 appellants were granted asylum in 2017 on appeal after an initial refusal. If they had not appealed they would have been forcibly returned to the country and situations from which they had fled.