An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country and is seeking protection in another country as a refugee. Asylum seekers must apply to be recognized as a refugee. They do not have that status when they arrive in the country in which they are seeking protection. The time it takes for an asylum application to be decided upon varies, but it can take up to several years.
Most countries require that asylum seekers meet the at least some of the criteria laid down in the Geneva Convention‘s definition of a refugee. Some states also provide discretionary protection for people who need protection, but do not strictly fit this criteria. If an asylum seekers application for protection is accepted by a state, then they become refugees.
In 2011, over 876,000 people applied for asylum worldwide. South Africa received one-tenth of these asylum applications, making it the largest recipient of individual asylum claims. The US and France received the second and third most individual asylum claims, respectively.
States often want to try to deter asylum seekers from applying for protection with them. One way states have sought to control the number of applicants is to minimize the rights that asylum seekers can access while they wait for their status to be determined. They often have little to no access to the national labor market, public services, and it is becoming increasingly common for states to detain asylum seekers throughout the entire determination process. The result of these policies has been that asylum seekers often experience destitution, homelessness, and other related issues while they wait for their claim to be processed.
Recent News Articles and Blogs:
The UK Border Agency must end this culture of disbelief
By Diane Taylor, The Guardian
November 22, 2012
The UK Border Agency has come under fire in a report from the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, John Vine, for allowing a huge backlog of asylum cases to build up and for misleading parliament about how it has dealt with this backlog. The report focuses on 147,000 legacy cases – asylum seekers who made a claim before March 2007 – and says that this group has spent an average of seven years waiting for a decision. Continue reading →
REFUGEES: Changing the Odds in Europe’s Asylum Lottery
November 21, 2012
JOHANNESBURG – Desperate to escape the conflict in Syria, but reluctant to see out the war in a dusty refugee camp in Jordan, Emmad Saeed* and his family paid smugglers to take them to Europe. They hoped to reach relatives in Germany or Sweden but their smugglers guaranteed only that they would get to Europe, and the country their small boat washed up on was Greece. Continue reading →
Citing bias, court orders review of deported Libyan family
By Maureen Brosnahan, CBC
November 20, 2012
Canadian immigration officials say they will comply with a Federal Court order to review the case of a family that was deported four years ago to Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, where the father was imprisoned and tortured in that country’s notorious Ain Zara jail. Continue reading →
Asylum seeker houses ‘unfit for children’
By Nina Lakhani, The Independent
November 20, 2012
Housing provided to asylum seeker families is unfit for children, a Parliamentary inquiry has been told. Continue reading →
In its haste to be tough on failed asylum seekers the UK is ignoring torture risks
By David Mepham, The Independent
September 19, 2012
In June 2011, a young ethnic Tamil man from Jaffna was deported to Sri Lanka by the UK Border Agency following the rejection of his claim for asylum. Soon after, he was taken to the police headquarters in Colombo, interrogated about his activities in London and severely tortured. Continue reading →
Greece: Migrants Describe Fear on the Streets
Human Rights Watch
July 10, 2012
(Athens) – The Greek authorities are failing to tackle a rising wave of xenophobic violence that has left migrants afraid to walk the streets. Continue reading →
Privatizing Asylum Housing: Serco and G4S Get UK Contracts
By Lily Smith, CorpWatch Blog
May 8th, 2012
Over 100 asylum seekers are facing eviction in Glasgow after Serco – a private security company – won a housing contract from the the UK Borders Authority (UKBA). The company will take over in November 2012 for the charity Ypeople who currently house asylum seekers in the Scottish city. Groups ranging from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees to the National Union of Journalists are organizing rallies to protest the plan. Continue reading →