A new report by Europa shows that in 2016 there were 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in the Member States of the European Union.
This number (1,204,300 exactly) was down from 2015 (1,257,000 registered applicants).
Those coming from Syria (28 per cent of the total number of first time applicants), Afghanistan (15 per cent) and Iraq (11 per cent) continue to be at the top of the list for country of citizenship.
The UK has failed to meet its ‘fair share’ quota for taking in Syria refugees, having pledged to take in just over five and a half thousand, instead of their fair share of 25,067.
A closer look at a country-by-country analysis shows something interesting.
According to data by Europa, the country of origin for the highest number of first time asylum applications to the UK is Iran.
In 2016, there were 4,780 people who cited Iran as their country of citizenship applied for first time asylum to the UK.
According to an Amnesty International report published earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhani’s Iran hasn’t moved far away from his predecessor’s propensity to curtail civil liberties, and the torture of detainees – including flogging and amputations.
Members of religious and ethnic minority groups continue to face discrimination.
...Baha’is, Sufis, Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq), Christian converts and Sunni Muslims, faced discrimination in law and practice, including in education, employment and inheritance, and were persecuted for practising their faith.
In 2016 the authorities made “extensive use of the death penalty” and carried out “hundreds of executions, some in public”.
The Kurdish element
Iran is made up of approximately 10 per cent Kurds.
However they, like many other minorities in the country, are subject to persecution.
According to a government report in 2015, there was a “huge surge in executions of Kurdish political prisoners”.
Thus one possible reason for the elevated number of Iranian applications for asylum could be related to this.