Chris Cleave concludes a fruitful week of blogging for Refugee Week 2009:
FRIDAY 19th June 2009
It’s Friday, so I’m not going to ask any difficult questions today. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are currently around eight million refugees in the world and over twenty million internally displaced people or refugees within their own countries. By no means all of these people seek refuge in the UK. Each year, between 20,000 and 40,000 people seek asylum here. Many are accepted; many more are rejected. But to put these numbers in context, 577,000 people immigrated to the UK in 2007 alone (the last year for which I can find Office of National Statistics data). Asylum seekers, therefore, represent a tiny fraction of total immigration. It’s not a flood, it’s not a plague, it’s a relatively small stream of people who, as I’ve already mentioned, could easily be seen as an asset rather than a liability. My final question for Refugee Week, then, is a very simple one: to how many of these people should we grant refuge? And what would you say to those, if any, you’d turn away?