Strangely, for a nation which continues to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan (at an average cost of £5bn a year) the UK does not appear to have been affected by Afghan asylum seekers to quite the same degree as other European countries like France and Germany.
This is despite the fact that a recent report published by the Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, draws attention to the fact that the second quarter of 2011 saw a 23% increase in asylum claims across the 27 EU member states, with the highest numbers coming from Afghanistan (closely followed by Russia, and then Iraq). A total of 6,460 Afghans lodged retrospective asylum applications in that quarter, with “the largest numbers of applications for international protection” being lodged “in France, Germany and Belgium,” in that order.
During this period the UK received just over 2,000 asylum claims a month, slightly less than Belgium. Given all that we have done in the previous decade to drive Afghans from their homes, surely the least we can do is take a greater share of the burden from our EU partners?
1 The report, on ‘Population and social conditions,’ can be found here http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-SF-12-011/EN/KS-SF-12-011-EN.PDF