Scroll down to see some of the most commonly held myths and to learn more about why these don’t reflect the realities of the current situation.
As the UN reports, over half of the world’s refugees are under 18. The photos that we see in the media of Greek camps being full of single men is partly because women and families are transferred out of camps quickly whilst single men are deemed fit enough to endure the conditions. It’s also the case that some families who fear persecution send their sons to Europe in the hope of joining them at a later date. This is because the journey is so physical challenging and dangerous for women – recently three female migrants, two of them teenagers, were found stabbed to death on the land border between Turkey and Greece.
As UN High Commissioner for Refugees has noted, 84% of refugees are hosted in developing countries. Turkey hosts 3 million, Pakistan 1.6, Iran 1 million (but due to unregistered numbers, likely to be more around 3 million). In Lebanon 1 out of 6 inhabitants are refugees. In comparison, only 0.24% of the UK population are refugees.
The Danish Institute for International Studies has found that the vast majority of terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by born and bred European citizens. The situation is the same in the US – no individual accepted to the US as a refugee has committed a terrorist attack since Cuban refugees in the 1970s.
The UK government website states that asylum seekers receive housing and £37.75 for each person in their household per week. That's in comparison to £257.69 per week as a single adult, or £296.35 if you're living in Greater London. In November 2018 the BBC reported that "less than a quarter of state-run accommodation for asylum seekers is compliant with standards", noting "blocked drains, an infestation of rodents, damp and mould" in a mother and baby unit for seven women with children under the age of two" and "young people with high levels of trauma being placed in houses shared with older men with alcohol and drug problems".
In August 2018 the German government released statistics showing that one out of four asylum seekers had gained a labour contract in which the company and employee were paying full contributions to social insurance schemes. In some countries, such as the UK, asylum seekers are not allowed to work. In August 2018, the BBC reported on the death of a young asylum seeker who had been working at a car wash illegally, and had fell whilst fleeing from immigration officers. He later died from a traumatic brain hemorrhage.
If you cross a border without a legitimate visa or passport, because you wish to claim asylum, that is permitted within international law. As stated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees: “the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules […] refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay”. What is illegal is denying someone the chance to claim asylum.
It’s part of being human that our eye is drawn to something different. But so much of the fabric of European society is based on the contribution of refugees, many of whom you probably didn’t know were refugees at all.
There is no such thing as a bogus asylum seeker or an illegal asylum seeker. As an asylum seeker, a person has entered into a legal process of refugee status determination. Everybody has a right to seek asylum in another country. People who don't qualify for protection as refugees will not receive refugee status and may be deported, but just because someone doesn't receive refugee status doesn't mean they are a bogus asylum seeker.‘Let us remember that a bogus asylum-seeker is not equivalent to a criminal; and that an unsuccessful asylum application is not equivalent to a bogus one’ - Kofi Annan
Let's imagine that you're hoping to be resettled in the United States from where you're residing in a neighbouring country to where you've fled from. Your first challenge is obtaining asylum status, which is difficult as it stands and notoriously time-consuming. In order to be resettled, you'll have to wait another one to four years - and that's only if you managed to get asylum status. There's 18 levels of screening to go through, including up to nine interviews, your personal information being ran through the US State Department, and your fingerprints and photos being checked on an interagency database.
Asylum-seekers in the UK, like other EU countries, can qualify for accommodation and financial aid while they wait for their claims to be decided upon. However, the weekly allowance in the UK is only £36.95 per week for a single adult asylum-seeker, which is lower than many other EU countries. The equivalent weekly rate in France, for example, is £58.50.Elsewhere in the EU, asylum-seekers must be permitted to work if their claims have not been decided within 9 months, and some countries even permit this after a shorter period. In the UK however, permission to work is not granted unless 12 months have past and the claim remains undecided. There are also strict restrictions on what work an asylum-seeker is allowed to do even if this condition is met.
The number of migrants to Yemen has outnumbered those to the whole of Europe. The International Organization for Migration has noted that nearly 150,000 migrants arrived in war-torn Yemen in 2018, compared to 134,000 across the whole of Europe. This is despite the fact that, as of November 2018, 85,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 are said to have died of starvation.
In October 2017, the government forced NHS trusts to apply certain regulations as part of its hostile. The rules compel trusts in England to charge most undocumented migrants, including refused asylum seekers, upfront for many forms of hospital-based medical care, even though such patients are often destitute. This policy has led to hundreds of people missing out on care for sometimes life-threatening conditions such as cancer.
A 2016 survey showed that British people believed that one in six of the UK population is Muslim - the real answer is one in twenty. Similarly, "French people think 31 per cent of their country is Muslim while Americans believe the figure for the US is 17 per cent. The real numbers are 7.5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively."
Scroll down to see a series of infographics which explain various issues regarding the refugee crisis. Click on each picture to enlarge it.