Almost 500 refugees seeking asylum in North
Total of 497 awaiting decision on future from the UK Home Office, says Detail Data
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: said he hoped 2,000 Syrian refugees could be accommodated. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Almost 500 refugees from around the world are seeking asylum in Northern Ireland.
The fate of the 497 asylum seekers, who are awaiting a decision on their future, lies with the UK Home Office.
Belfast-based journalism project Detail Data extracted the Northern Ireland figures from Home Office immigration statistics, which include quarterly figures on asylum, detention and removals. According to the figures, 212 people were detained between April-June 2015 at Larne House, the North’s only holding centre for immigrants, including asylum seekers.
In the same period, people from 37 countries were seeking asylum in Northern Ireland, including 154 applications from China and 14 from Syria.
The statistics cover only those asylum seekers judged to be “destitute” and whose applications have not been finalised.
Detail Data also requested information on asylum seekers from the Department of Education, the Health and Social Care Board and the Business Services Organisation, a body of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The figures showed:
Twenty-five children who arrived into Northern Ireland unaccompanied between 2011 and August 2015 have been taken into care, including five who were taken into care in the first eight months of this year alone. The children, the youngest of whom was 12, originated from countries including: Albania, Algeria, China, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Romania, Somalia, South Korea and Sudan.
Some 137 children of asylum seekers were educated in Northern Ireland schools in 2014/15. All were based in Belfast. The figure is up from 72 in 2012/13.
Between January 2010 and June 2015, 1,333 asylum seekers registered with a GP practice; 147 registered in the first six months of this year.
The North’s main political parties support efforts to house Syrian refugees, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness expressing hope 2,000 refugees could be accommodated.
The Northern Ireland administration said the delayed legislation is at an advanced stage and officials have started “significant preparatory work” related to the refugee crisis.
Justin Kouame, chair of the Northern Ireland Community of Refugees & Asylum Seekers, expressed concern at the lack of structures to look after 2,000 Syrian refugees.
Detail Data is a partnership of thedetail.tv and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action