Bookmark and Share
21/01/2004

African travellers to be fingerprinted at UK airports

Visitors to the UK from five east African countries and those travelling on refugee documents issued by other countries will have to provide fingerprint data before they enter the UK, the Home Office announced today.

The move is part of a drive to tackle "unfounded asylum claims" from Somali nationals and "fraudulent claims" by individuals claiming to be Somalis, the Home Office say. It also represents the next step in the roll-out of biometric technology to tackle immigration abuse.

From March, visa applicants from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda will be required to provide a record of their fingerprints when applying for a visa.

The Home Office said that a "significant proportion" of asylum seekers who claim to be from Somalia were in fact from other east African countries. The department quoted a "recent pilot language analysis exercise" which suggested that 10% of all 'Somali' claimants were fraudulent.

The latest quarterly asylum statistics, quoted by the Home Office, showed a 60% increase in asylum applications from individuals claiming to be Somali, despite no significant change in the circumstances in the country. The government believes that some of these claims have been made by people from other east African countries or from Somalis who have already been granted asylum elsewhere in Europe.

High-tech biometrics can help identify people who have entered the country legitimately then destroy their travel documents to claim asylum in a false identity, or make it more difficult to remove them if their asylum claim is refused, the Home Office said.

Home Office Minister, Beverley Hughes, said: "We know that a significant proportion of asylum seekers claiming to be Somali are actually from neighbouring east African countries.

"Together with the roll-out of specialist language analysis, recording the fingerprints of visa applicants from this region is part of a concerted government strategy to cut fraudulent asylum applications from this region.

"Dealing with those who are abusing the system is vital to build public trust and confidence in our immigration and asylum policies, so we can welcome those who have a legal right to be here."

The east African biometric visa initiative follows a "successful" pilot to record the fingerprints of those applying for visas from Sri Lanka. Since the initial six-month project started in July 2003, the Home Office said that seven undocumented asylum applicants, who destroyed their passports after entering the UK, were identified.

(gmcg)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

16 June 2003
Home Office to restart screening of Iraqi asylum requests
The Home Office has announced today that consideration of Iraqi asylum claims - suspended at the start of military action - is to be re-started today, following "the fundamental change in the situation in the country".
23 August 2005
Asylum applications fall by 11%
The number of asylum applications fell by 11% in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest figures from the Home Office. It was announced that 6,220 asylum seekers, excluding dependents, arrived in the UK between April and June this year.
17 May 2005
Asylum applications fall by 17%
Asylum applications dropped by 17% over the first three months of 2005, according to the latest figures from the Home Office. The Home Office’s quarterly statistics also showed that monthly applications are now at their lowest level since March 1997.
25 May 2004
Asylum applications fall by a fifth: government figures
The number of asylum applications has fallen by a fifth in the past quarter, according to statistics published today. The Home Office published its latest quarterly asylum statistics which found that asylum applications has nose-dived by more than 60% since October 2002.
17 June 2003
Expansion of 'safe countries' reduces asylum appeal rights
Asylum applicants from seven more countries will have no right of appeal in the UK if their claims are refused and certified as 'clearly unfounded', the Home Office announced today. As part of the department's drive to cut abuse of the asylum system, the seven countries are being added to the list of so-called 'safe countries'.
19 July 2005
Report claims asylum removals fall short of targets
A new report claims that asylum removals are falling short of proposed targets, with as many as 280,000 illegal immigrants still resident in Britain, despite increased funding being given to the authorities responsible for removing them.
28 June 2005
Zimbabwe asylum returns ‘immoral’ Archbishop claims
The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the deportation of failed asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe as “deeply immoral”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, Dr Rowan Williams, said: “There are some places where, if people are sent back, the risks are just statistically so unacceptably high.
22 November 2005
Failed asylum seekers removals increase
The number of failed asylum seekers removed from Britain increased by 12% to 3,460 in the third quarter of this year, Home Office figures have shown. People from Serbia and Montenegro, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan accounted for most of the removals.
24 October 2003
Asylum families given reprieve in 'one-off exercise'
Allowing up to 15,000 asylum seeker families to remain in the UK to live and work will save taxpayer's money, Home Secretary David Blunkett said today. The Home Secretary said the decision was a "one-off exercise" for families who sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago.
08 May 2003
Report slams government's asylum policy
The all-party Home Affairs Select committee has published a report today criticising the government over its policy on asylum.
01 March 2005
UN reports fall in global asylum figures
The UN has reported that the number of asylum seekers arriving in industrialised countries has fallen for the third year in a row to reach the lowest level in 16 years. In many countries, the total number of asylum seekers was at its lowest level for many years in 2004, according to the UN refugee agency.
23 May 2006
UK asylum applications rise
The number of asylum applications in the UK increased by 5% in the first three months of 2006, the latest figures from the Home Office have shown. However, removals of failed asylum seekers have also increased, rising by 19% on the previous quarter and 43% when compared to last year's figures.
28 February 2006
Asylum applications 'lowest level in a decade'
Asylum applications have fallen to their lowest level for more than a decade, according to the latest figures published by the Home Office. The figures showed that there were 6,165 applications in the last quarter of 2005 - a 2% drop from the previous quarter and 27% lower than the same period in 2004.
16 November 2004
Asylum applications rise 9% over last quarter
Asylum applications rose by 9% last quarter, but stand around a third lower than this time last year, according to statistics published today. The statistics for July to September of 2004 found that asylum applications rose by 685, compared to the previous three months.
24 August 2004
Home Office hails fall in asylum applications
The number of asylum applications fell by 11% between April and June this year, and is now at its lowest level since the same three months in 1997, according to government figures published today.