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Turkish asylum applications rising again

The number of asylum applications from Turkey is on the rise again

Hundreds of people sought refuge in the UK since April 2016 – and brought their families with them

More Turkish families are applying for asylum in the UK than at any stage in the past ten years, new figures have revealed.

Quarterly immigration statistics released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday revealed over 450 Turkish nationals had sought refuge in the last twelve months – the highest level since 2006.

A total of 462 people – including spouses, partners and their children – applied for asylum in the UK between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, an 80% increase on the previous twelve-month period.

There was a significant uptick in applications from Turkish citizens in the second half of the year, suggesting they could have been filed by members of the network connected to Fethullah Gulen, a preacher based in the United States that Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed coup.

Historical drop

Turkish passport holders’ asylum requests had been steadily falling since the turn of the century, when the number of annual applications were as high as 3,500.

But fewer citizens of Kurdish origin in particular sought refuge in Britain in the 2000s, as hopes rose of an end to the decades-long conflict in Turkey’s southeast. Only 18 Turkish citizens sought asylum in the UK in the first three months of 2010 – a remarkable drop the thousands of applications just nine years previously.

But the numbers began to creep up again as the Kurdish peace process began to falter, albeit counted in hundreds rather than thousands.

Record year for study

The figures also revealed there was a modest increase in the number of Turkish citizens applying for UK visas.

A record 122,928 people applied for visas in the last twelve months, up from 111,141 in the previous period.