The top country for asylum applicants in the UK for the fourth quarter of 2009 is Zimbabwe which had 5540 applicants, followed by Afghanistan 3330, Iran 1835, Eritrea 1360 and Pakistan 1275.
The British Red Cross Head of Refugee Services, Nick Scott-Flynn, said some of the asylum seekers were destitutes as they had been deprived of accomodation and healthcare.
He said many people in the UK assumed that asylum seekers were given more financial support than they actually received. He said from its experience, the British Red Cross was aware that the vast majority of asylum seekers were not in the UK to claim benefits, but were escaping conflict, persecution or other dangers in their lives.
Scott-Flynn was commenting on the findings of an ICM poll for the British Red Cross, which established that one in four British people still believed that asylum seekers came to Britain to claim benefits.
The British Red Cross said even though 89 percent of the people interviewed during the poll, correctly defined an asylum seeker as someone fleeing persecution in their own country, 28 per cent believed an asylum seeker was someone who had come to the UK to illegally look for work.
The results of the poll which surveyed over 2,000 people, showed conflicting opinions and a lack of knowledge about the legal definition of asylum. The results of the ICM poll have been published to coincide with this year’s Refugee Week, which started on Monday.
The Refugee week is a UK-wide programme of Arts, cultural and educational events that celebrates the contribution of refugees in the UK and encourages a better understanding between communities.