There are days I can’t stand British tabloids and their relentless scaremongering about asylum seekers, refugees, migrants etc etc. Imagine you were locked in a room and only relying on them to understand the refugee crisis, the UK would look like a country invaded, ‘swamped‘ by ‘swarms‘ and ‘hordes’ of refugees after the ‘generous‘ UK welfare system. Today I was alerted that the Daily Express may want to talk to me about ‘the number of lone child asylum seekers in the UK that has shot up by a third in the last year putting massive strain on council services’. The call didn’t come in the end, but just in case this is my answer: the refugee crisis in the EU hasn’t reached the UK. The charts below illustrate my point (source: EUROSTAT). The first shows the number of asylum applications in the EU over the decade 2005-2015. I have isolated the UK from the rest of the EU to highlight the contribution of the UK to handling asylum applications. As the second shows, the UK share has actually decreased during the EU refugee crisis. A similar pattern emerges also from the data on unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). Despite the Daily Express’ concern, the number of UASC in the UK is tiny and the challenges local authorities are facing are far more about draconian budget cuts imposed by Cameron and Osborne than about minors. We all should be more concerned instead about the deportation of former unaccompanied minors back to Afghanistan as Elaine Chase and I discussed in a recent piece in The Conversation and was highlighted in the excellent report After Return by the Refugee Support Network, and the disappearance once in the EU of hundreds of unaccompanied minors and its causes.

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