Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asserts that the government successfully eliminated the backlog of asylum cases, a claim challenged by opponents and experts. Sunak, speaking at a press conference, declared the processing of all asylum applications filed before June 2022, labeling it a “historic achievement” showcasing the government’s commitment to a “fair and firm” asylum system. However, Labour’s shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, accuses Sunak of manipulating figures, highlighting the government’s failure to address underlying asylum issues.

Thomas-Symonds argues that the government merely withdrew or rejected numerous legacy cases without fair hearings, leaving thousands of asylum seekers awaiting decisions. He criticizes the proposed asylum system overhaul, condemning plans to send seekers to third countries for processing and denying protection to those arriving through irregular routes as “inhumane, unworkable, and potentially unlawful.” The Refugee Council echoes doubts about the backlog claim, urging the government to prioritize improving decision-making speed and quality over “quick-fix solutions” that could compromise the UK’s refugee-friendly image.

Home Office statistics reveal 175,000 pending asylum decisions by June 2023, marking a 44% increase from the previous year. The government insists this figure includes both legacy and new cases, emphasizing efforts to reduce pending cases. With a 75% rise in asylum-related returns and a £4 billion investment in the asylum system for 2022-23, the government underscores its commitment. Additionally, it collaborates with international partners to address migration root causes and prevent perilous journeys to the UK.

Asylum applications in the year ending June 2023 reached 97,000, a nearly 20% annual increase, with applicants mainly originating from Iran, Iraq, Albania, Eritrea, and Sudan. The UK granted protection to 42% of applicants during this period, a slight decline from the previous year’s 45%.

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