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What Value Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
It is amazing how much we misunderstand the process of refugees and asylum
I work for a company called Phoenix Community Care, this is a not for profit
company that works with people in need. So we work with young people age 16 and
17 years old who are in the UK
but have no parents or guardians here. They actually come under the care system
as looked after children, as you are considered by UK law as a child until you
reach the age of 18 years, the problem for the care system was that in real
terms most local authority agencies for foster care where overstretched before
the wars in so many areas started supping refugees out all over the world.
Places like Afghanistan,
Kosovo, Darfur, Somalia, and Iraqi. On top of that
there are localised wars like in Congo. Then on top of that there
are internal wars in Sri
Lanka. Add to those problems the problem of
persecution which still excises in countries like Vietnam,
If your life was threatened would you run away, would you try and protect your
family and loved ones?
As a company we are housing young people from most of the above countries, we
then have young people from China and Iran, why Iran, no war there, well no,
but if you are a Christian or a Jehovah witness, then life is almost
impossible. Then there are those from Ethiopia, why do they come, many say to
me well my father speaks Amharic but my mother is from Eritrea and no one want
I am sure there are bad apples, some few I have met, but most of the stories I
hear would make you wonder why they are not mad, and some because of the
extreme pressure actually are and need good psychiatric care.
Sadly I often hear from people, it is not fair, they are steeling our houses
and jobs and being paid large amounts of money. I work in the sector and what I
see does not fit those newspaper nonsense headlines, I see youngster’s just
about surviving, roof, small amount of food money and some help with language.
Many of these people are ambitious and keen to work and contribute to the
country that has given them refuge; often the law doesn’t allow them to do
We are only a small Island, other countries
Where do asylum seekers in Europe come from?
The four main countries of origin of asylum seekers in Europe in 2002 were Iraq with 50,058 applications, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with 32,656
applications, Turkey with
28,455 applications and Afghanistan
with 25,470 applications UNHCR Asylum Applications Lodged in Industrialised
Countries: Levels and Trends, 2000-2002).
And who does help, well of course the UK does and many think we are doing more
than anyone else, but look at these statistics which is based on the population
for the country, per 1,000 and who in Europe does take the most refugees per
head of population, have a look:
Which European countries have the highest number of asylum applications?
When the number of asylum applications are compared with the total population
of the state in which the applications are made (i.e. applications per 1000
inhabitants), in 2002, out of 25 European countries, Austria was the European
country with the highest ratio of applications to population with 4.6
applications per 1000, followed by Norway (3.9), Sweden (3.7), Switzerland
(3.7), Ireland (3.1) and Liechtenstein (2.8). Germany
had 0.9 applications per 1000 inhabitants and the UK 1.9. (Source: Table 1 UNHCR
Asylum Applications Lodged in Industrialised Countries: Levels and Trends,
The thing is that the UK
can use asylum seekers to the benefit of the country as well as help very needy
people. The UK
has ageing population, many who have paid into pensions, never mind the
national pension. Pension funds rely on the working population paying into the
fund, which then pays out to those who no longer are in work. Of course if the
amount of people working falls to a smaller and smaller amount the ability to
continue to pay those who are no longer in work becomes more difficult, hence
in the UK the moves to increase the statutory retirement age.
The state pension age is set to increase to 68 by 2050 with anyone aged less
than 47 facing a longer working life, the work and pension’s secretary, John
Only those born before 1959 will be unaffected by plans to phase in a higher
retirement age over three decades, outlined in the government's white paper on
The interesting thing is that most refugees / asylum seekers coming to the UK are
of working age. Maybe they will help your pension!
Asylum seekers and refugees will often when given the opportunity create jobs
for others, become entrepreneur’s that will benefit the economy and indirectly
benefit all of the current population. We need to open our eyes to the benefits
as well as the perceived problems; Benefits in our hospitals, in our transport
system and in our building programmes.
My view, well some of these young people with tragic stories and terrible life
experience can be of great blessing to all of us, we need to see it and help
them to do it.