Asylum claims in Britain highest in more than a decade

Demonstrators hold placards during a refugees welcome march in London, Britain March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall (Reuters)

By Lin Taylor LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 36,000 asylum seeker claims were made in Britain in the 12 months to June, according to government figures published on Thursday, the highest number in over a decade. In the 12 months to June this year, 36,465 people applied for asylum in Britain, a 41 percent increase on the year ending June 2015, which saw nearly 26,000 claims. The number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Britain rose to 3,472, a 54 percent increase on the year ending June 2015, representing 10 percent of all asylum claims in the 12 months to June this year. The last time Britain had such a high number of applications was in 2004, when 39,746 people sought asylum. "Given the world is in the grip of one of the worst refugee crises in history, the truth is that comparatively fewer people get as far as Britain in their search for safety," said Lisa Doyle, head of advocacy at Refugee Council, in a statement. Over a million people fleeing wars and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia reached the European Union (EU) last year in the continent's biggest migration crisis since World War Two. The largest number of asylum claims in Britain came from people who have left Iran (4,910), Iraq (3,199), Pakistan (2,992), Eritrea (2,790), Afghanistan (2,690) and Syria (2,563). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said nearly 3,500 refugees were resettled in the past year. Across the EU, Germany received 665,000 asylum seeker claims in the year ending June 2016, by far the greatest number, followed by Sweden (149,000)and Hungary (131,000) Britain had the eighth highest amount of asylum applications in the EU, according to ONS data. "Protecting refugees isn't just a job for other countries in far away places. This is a job Britain can and should help with," Doyle said. (Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit to see more stories)