Connect with us

Foreign

UK asylum backlog falls with record approvals

Published

on

UK asylum

The UK’s asylum backlog is falling, new figures show, driven by an increase in decisions being made.

The number of approvals and refusals rose significantly last year, according to the latest Home Office data.

Figures show that the Home Office made 74,172 initial decisions on asylum applications during 2023, nearly four times the number made in 2022.

The Home Office hailed the progress made, but Labour criticised the continued cost of hotel accommodation.

The figures show 45,768 asylum seekers were in hotel accommodation at the end of 2023 – little changed on the year before.

Two-thirds of the asylum decisions were positive, a slightly lower rate than in the previous two years.

But the total number of people granted humanitarian protection hit a new record.

Some 62,336 people were issued refugee status or other protection, the highest figure since records began and double that seen the previous year.

Nearly 31,000 people were refused protection, five times more than were refused the year before.

The number of UK asylum applications withdrawn in 2023 was 24,027, relating to 25,583 people – more than four times the number in 2022, when there were 5,255 withdrawn applications relating to 5,944 people.

Some 79% of withdrawn applications in 2023 were classed as “implicit withdrawals”, meaning the Home Office chose to withdraw the application rather than the applicant withdrawing it themselves.

This has drawn criticism that the Home Office has used withdrawals to speed up clearing the backlog, following a pledge made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

READ ALSO  Plane crashes on takeoff in Nepal with 19 aboard

Enver Solomon, from the Refugee Council, said: “Withdrawals should never be used as a way to reduce the backlog and should only be employed in certain, very specific circumstances.”

The figures released on Thursday showed 3,902 people who applied before 28 June 2022 were still waiting for a decision by last December. The government counts these cases as “legacy applications” and had pledged to clear this backlog by the end of 2023.

The most common countries of origin for asylum seekers were Afghanistan, Iran and India. The number of Albanians seeking asylum fell by almost five times, following a returns agreement agreed by the UK and Albania in 2022.

In addition to asylum seekers, 102,000 people moved to the UK through legal humanitarian routes. These were mostly people from Ukraine and Hong Kong, but also family members of refugees.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are making progress to stop the boats and last year the UK bucked the trend by reducing illegal migration and made significant steps in tackling abuse of our asylum system.

“Channel crossings were down by more than a third, we cleared the legacy asylum backlog, enforced returns were up by 66% and we returned 50 hotels back to their communities.

“We will pass our Rwanda Bill so that those who enter the UK illegally can be quickly removed to a safe third country. Only by removing the prospect that illegal migrants can settle in the UK can we control our borders and save lives at sea.”

Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “A year after promising to end their use, almost 46,000 people are still stuck in hotels.

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

“The Tories’ failure to clear the backlog and return small boats arrivals has blown a £4bn hole in the Home Office budget, paid at taxpayers’ expense.”

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Foreign

Plane crashes on takeoff in Nepal with 19 aboard

Published

on

Plane crashes on takeoff in Nepal with 19 aboard

A passenger plane carrying 19 people crashed during takeoff in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu on Wednesday morning, with fire crews working to douse the flaming wreckage.

The Saurya Airlines plane crashed at around 11:15 am (0530 GMT), Nepal’s military said in a statement.

“Rescue work is going on” with the army’s quick response team lending assistance, the statement added.

Further details were “still being confirmed”, Kathmandu airport general manager Jagannath Niroula told AFP.

The Kathmandu Post newspaper said 19 people including air crew were aboard the flight.

News portal Khabarhub reported that the airplane had caught fire after skidding on the runway and was “releasing a significant plume of smoke”.

The plane was en route to Pokhara, an important tourism hub in the Himalayan republic.

Saurya Airlines exclusively flies Bombardier CRJ 200 jets, according to its website.

Nepal’s air industry has boomed in recent years, carrying goods and people between hard-to-reach areas as well as foreign trekkers and climbers.

But it has been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient training and maintenance.

The European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.

Nepal’s woeful record on aviation safety has been compounded by its treacherous geography.

The Himalayan country has some of the world’s trickiest runways to land on, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge even for accomplished pilots.

The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, creating treacherous flying conditions.

Nepal’s last major commercial flight accident was in January 2023, when a Yeti Airlines service crashed while landing at Pokhara, killing all 72 aboard.

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

That accident was Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane died when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu airport.

Earlier that year a Thai Airways aircraft had crashed near the same airport, killing 113 people.

Authorities have yet to release the identity of those aboard

Source: The Punch

Continue Reading

Foreign

Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

Published

on

US Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle testifies before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee

The head of the US Secret Service has resigned amid bipartisan outrage over the attempted assassination of former president Donald Trump.

Ten days after the Republican candidate almost lost his life, Secret Service director Kimberly Cheatle has stood down over her agency’s failure to stop a 20-year-old gunman from opening fire at the former president during a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania.

US President Joe Biden paid tribute to Cheatle, whose 30 year career with the agency included a stint protecting the Biden family during Barack Obama’s administration when he was vice president.

“The independent review to get to the bottom of what happened on July 13 continues, and I look forward to assessing its conclusions,” he said in a statement as he prepared to return to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, two days after dropping out of the election.

“We all know what happened that day can never happen again. As we move forward, I wish Kim all the best, and I will plan to appoint a new director soon.”

The resignation came after a scathing congressional hearing on Monday (Tuesday AEST) in which Cheatle was excoriated by both sides of politics as she failed to share new light about the assassination attempt.

She acknowledged that the Secret Service was told about a suspicious person two to five times before the shooting took place and that the roof from which Thomas Matthew Crooks opened fire had been identified as a potential vulnerability days before the rally.

However, she repeatedly refused to answer many other questions about what happened, and by the end of the hearing, Democrats and Republicans were united in calling for her to step down.

READ ALSO  Plane crashes on takeoff in Nepal with 19 aboard

“Director Cheatle, because Donald Trump is alive and thank God he is, you look incompetent. If Donald Trump had been killed, you would have looked culpable,” said a furious Mike Turner, who is also the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Not only should you resign, if you refuse to do so, President Biden needs to fire you, because his life, Donald Trump’s life, and all the other people which you protect are at risk, because you have no concept of the aspect that the security footprint needs to be correlated to the threat.”

While Cheatle had insisted yesterday that she remained the “right person” to lead the Secret Service, she sent an email to staff this morning telling them: “I do not want my calls for resignation to be a distraction from the great work each, and every one of you do towards our vital mission.

“In light of recent events, it is with a heavy heart that I have made the difficult decision to step down as your Director.”

The agency’s deputy director Ronald Rowe has been appointed acting director until a permanent replacement is appointed.

The attempted assassination on Trump shocked the world and reignited concerns around political violence in America.

Several inquiries and now underway into how Crookes was able to fire at least six rounds from a roof, about 400 feet from where Trump was addressing the crowd.

Trump turned his head at the last minute, and was only grazed by the bullet before being whisked away to safety. However, one spectator was killed and two others were critically injured in the crossfire.

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

The former president and his family have repeatedly praised the Secret Service for saving his life, and Trump had initially called for unity in the wake of the shooting.

But in a post today, he wrote: “The Biden/Harris Administration did not properly protect me, and I was forced to take a bullet for Democracy. IT WAS MY GREAT HONOUR TO DO SO!”

Continue Reading

Foreign

Kamala Harris breaks record with over $81m donations — day after Biden quit race

Published

on

Kamala Harris breaks record with over $81m donations — day after Biden quit race

Kamala Harris, the United States vice president, has raised more than $81 million, a day after President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race.

The amount is believed to be the largest 24-hour fundraising in the history of the US presidential campaign.

Former President Donald Trump, who is the Republican Party candidate, raised more than $50 million in 24 hours after his felony conviction in the New York hush money trial.

Biden gathered $38 million in four days after his “unimpressive” debate performance against Trump.

Harris’ new total features donations from hundreds of thousands of first-time donors, the campaign said.

The donations breathe hope into a deflated Democratic Party facing a shaky road to re-election after weeks of trying to get Biden to give up the ticket.

The 81-year-old had insisted he would remain in the race despite growing concerns about his capacity to run the race.

However, the president took Americans by surprise on Sunday when he announced his withdrawal in the interest of the party and the country.

Biden threw his weight behind Harris and urged citizens to put their confidence in her.

The vice-president promised to win and earn nominations from her fellow Democrats.

Although Harris has not been announced as the party’s official candidate, polls have shown she is most favoured to get the Democrat’s ticket.

Source: The Cable

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting
Continue Reading

Foreign

Netanyahu heads to Washington, says Israel will remain Key US ally whoever succeeds Biden

Published

on

Netanyahu Heads to Washington, Says Israel Will Remain Key US Ally Whoever Succeeds Biden

Israel will be the United States’ strongest ally in the Middle East regardless of who is elected president in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday before flying to Washington, where he was due to address the U.S. Congress.

The visit, Mr. Netanyahu’s first to his most important international ally since returning for a record sixth term as prime minister at the end of 2022, has been overshadowed by President Joe Biden’s decision not to seek reelection.

The Israeli prime minister said he would thank President Biden for all he has done for Israel throughout his career and discuss with him issues such as securing the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza, defeating the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and confronting Iran and its proxies in the region.

A meeting with President Biden is tentatively planned for Tuesday if the 81-year-old president has recovered from COVID-19. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress on Wednesday.

“I will tell my friends on both sides of the aisle that regardless [of] who the American people choose as their next president, Israel remains America’s indispensable and strong ally in the Middle East,” he told reporters before boarding his plane.

“In this time of war and uncertainty, it’s important that Israel’s enemies know that America and Israel stand together,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding he wanted to “anchor the bipartisan support that is so important for Israel.”

After months of frosty relations with Washington over how Israel has conducted its offensive launched in Gaza after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7, the visit offers Mr. Netanyahu a platform to try to reset relations with Washington.

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

His speech to Congress is expected to focus on coordinating the Israeli and U.S. response to the volatile situation in the Middle East, where there is a growing danger of the Gaza war spilling over into a wider regional conflict.

The speech is likely to be less confrontational than an address Mr. Netanyahu gave to Congress in 2015 when he criticized President Barack Obama’s push for a nuclear deal with Iran.

Pressure
U.S. pressure on Israel for a resumption of talks on reaching a political agreement with the Palestinians, and a U.S. threat to withhold arms, have underlined perceptions in Israel that ties with Washington have weakened under Mr. Netanyahu. He has also faced protests in Israel demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

“Part of the goal is to try to show that with all that’s been said, with all the protests, Netanyahu is still the leader, still has support, he still has strong relations with America,” Yonatan Freeman, an international relations specialist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said.

The invitation for Mr. Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress—a rare honor generally reserved for the closest U.S. allies—was orchestrated by the House of Representatives’ Republican leadership, which has accused President Biden of not showing sufficient support for Israel.

There was no immediate sign that Mr. Netanyahu will meet with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The two forged a close relationship during the Trump presidency but Trump has criticized Mr. Netanyahu since and said the Gaza war must end quickly.

Although his welcome in Congress should be generally warm, protests roiling U.S. campuses suggest Mr. Netanyahu’s reception outside official Washington may be hostile.

READ ALSO  Plane crashes on takeoff in Nepal with 19 aboard

Activists opposing Israel’s offensive in Gaza and Washington’s support for Israel plan protests at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Police expect a “large number of demonstrators” and are making additional security arrangements but said there were no known threats.

Israel has been isolated internationally over its campaign in Gaza, which Hamas-controlled Gaza health authorities say has killed almost 39,000 Palestinians, the expansion of settlement-building in the West Bank, and Jewish settlers’ attacks on Palestinians.

An opinion issued on Friday by the International Court of Justice that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal was criticized by Washington. It followed similar developments including a decision by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Mr. Netanyahu.

In Israel, the prime minister faces growing calls for a deal that would halt the fighting in Gaza and allow the return of 120 hostages—alive or dead—still held in the enclave run by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Mr. Netanyahu has resisted pressure for an inquiry into the security failures preceding the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, during which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 were abducted and taken into Gaza.

Opinion polls show most Israelis hold him responsible and would vote him out if elections were held.

Mr. Netanyahu will be accompanied by Noa Argamani, a hostage rescued by Israeli commandos last month. Her presence has been criticized by other hostage families who say Mr. Netanyahu has not been doing enough to secure the release of their loved ones.

Source: NTD

Continue Reading

Foreign

You’re playing with fire, Ugandan President warns protesters

Published

on

You’re playing with fire, Ugandan President warns protesters

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has warned protesters planning an anti-corruption march on Tuesday that they are “playing with fire” and will not be tolerated.

BBC reports on Sunday that the protesters, mostly young Ugandans, are demanding an end to corruption in government and have been inspired by recent demonstrations in neighbouring Kenya.

Museveni was reported to have accused the protest organisers of working with foreigners to cause chaos in Uganda in a televised address, and warned that the government will not allow disruptions to the country’s progress.

“We are busy producing wealth… and you here want to disturb us. You are playing with fire because we cannot allow you to disturb us,” he said.

Police have refused to grant permission for the march, but protest leaders have said they will proceed anyway, citing their constitutional right to peaceful demonstration.

“We don’t need police permission to carry out a peaceful demonstration. It is our constitutional right,” one of the main protest leaders, Louez Opolose, told AFP.

A protester, Shamim Nambasa, speaking with AFP, said, “Our starting point in the fight against corruption is parliament… and the demonstration is on irrespective of what police is saying.”

The march comes amid growing discontent over corruption in Uganda, with the US and UK recently imposing sanctions on high-ranking officials, including parliamentary speaker Anita Annet Among, over allegations of corruption.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, President William Ruto, has called for an end to protests demanding his resignation and an end to “bad governance.”

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

The protests, which have turned violent at times, have resulted in at least 50 deaths and 413 injuries since June 18, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

In Nigeria, PUNCH Online understands that a planned protest, scheduled to take place from August 1 to 10, 2024, is gaining momentum across the country.

The demonstration is aimed at drawing attention to the economic challenges faced by Nigerians.

While the protest has garnered support from some quarters, it has also attracted mixed reactions and concerns from various stakeholders.

The Presidency has described calls for the nationwide protests as treasonable.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in a post on his X account, claimed that those organising the protests were also behind the “destructive” #EndSARS protests of October 2020

Continue Reading

Foreign

Kamala Harris: I’ll unite US to defeat Trump and his extreme agenda

Published

on

Kamala Harris: I’ll unite US to defeat Trump and his extreme agenda

Kamala Harris, US vice-president, says she is honoured to be endorsed as the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race, saying his decision not to seek reelection is in the best interest of the Democratic Party and the country.

Biden subsequently endorsed Harris, adding that he has offered his full support to the vice president as a nominee of the party in the November 5 presidential election.

In a statement, Harris said she would “earn and win” the nomination, adding that she would work hard to unite the party and country to defeat Trump.

“On behalf of the American people, I thank Joe Biden for his extraordinary leadership as President of the United States and for his decades of service to our country. His remarkable legacy of accomplishment is unmatched in modern American history, surpassing the legacy of many Presidents who have served two terms in office,” the statement reads.

“It is a profound honor to serve as his Vice President, and I am deeply grateful to the President, Dr. Biden, and the entire Biden family.

“I first came to know President Biden through his son Beau. We were friends from our days working together as Attorneys General of our home states.

“As we worked together, Beau would tell me stories about his Dad. The kind of father and the kind of man he was. And the qualities Beau revered in his father are the same qualities, the same values, I have seen every single day in Joe’s leadership as President: His honesty and integrity. His big heart and commitment to his faith and his family. And his love of our country and the American people.

READ ALSO  Head of US Secret Service resigns following Trump rally shooting

“With this selfless and patriotic act, President Biden is doing what he has done throughout his life of service: putting the American people and our country above everything else.

“I am honored to have the President’s endorsement and my intention is to earn and win this nomination. Over the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking with Americans about the clear choice in this momentous election. And that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead.

“I will do everything in my power to unite the Democratic Party and unite our nation to defeat Donald Trump and his extreme Project 2025 agenda.

“We have 107 days until Election Day. Together, we will fight. And together, we will win.

Source: The Cable

Continue Reading

Top Stories