David Ledden: UK Statistics Point to Iraqi Refugee Crisis

UK Home Office statistics released on Friday, 2003.02.28, reveal that applications for asylum by Iraqis increased by 2% in the last quarter of 2002. The government report will give ammunition to humanitarian groups who fear that a large-scale military attack against Iraq would create a refugee crisis. It also suggests that an exodus by Iraqis fleeing the impending US-led war may already be underway.

2003.03.14

UK Home Office statistics released on Friday, 2003.02.28, reveal that applications for asylum by Iraqis increased by 2% in the last quarter of 2002.* The government report will give ammunition to humanitarian groups who fear that a large-scale military attack against Iraq would create a refugee crisis. It also suggests that an exodus by Iraqis fleeing the impending US-led war may already be underway.

The Home Office report states that in 2002, Iraqis and Afghanis formed two of the largest groups seeking asylum in the UK. These figures would appear to correlate with the fact that both Iraq and Afghanistan have been the targets of US-led aggression since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York’s twin towers and the Pentagon.

When the US launched revenge attacks on Afghanistan in 2001–where members of Al-Qaeda, the organization thought to be behind the Twin Towers atrocity, were allegedly hiding–applications for asylum by Afghani refugees displaced by the attacks increased from 5,555 in the year 2000, to a nearly doubled 9,000. **

14,940 Iraqis made applications for asylum in 2002, making them by far the largest group to apply. The second largest group of applicants was from Zimbabwe (7,695), and in third, Afghanistan (7,380). This is the fourth consecutive quarter in which applicants from Iraq top the list of applicants, suggesting that the steady stream of Iraqi applicants in 2002 may also be due to Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime.

The UK Home Secretary David Blunkett expressed dismay with the 2002 figures, calling them “deeply unsatisfactory,” but he believes that a successful military campaign to oust Hussein would reverse this trend, and that the UK would then see a decrease in applications from Iraqi nationals.

Humanitarian aid groups meanwhile criticized the Home Secretary’s uncharitable statements. According to Asylum Aid, a London based organization: “The UK does not share a disproportionate burden of the World’s refugee population. Three-quarters of the World’s refugee and displaced populations are to be found in poorer, developing States; not the rich, developed nations such as the UK.”

While UK figures for 2002 show an overall increase of 4% over the previous year, the European Union, in comparison, witnessed a dip of 1% in total asylum applications during the same period.


*Asylum Statistics 4th Quarter 2002 United Kingdom, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/asylumq402.pdf
**Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 2001, Heath, T & Hill, R (2002), http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hosb902.pdf

Author: David Ledden

News Service: TheExperiment

URL: http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1911