Asylum policy should focus on peacemaking
Government attempts to cut the number of asylum seekers should focus on peacemaking according to a leading think tank.
A report published by the influential Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has concluded that human rights abuses drive more people to seek asylum in the UK than economic considerations.
The report's authors said rather than just tightening border controls more attention should be paid to the underlying factors that force people to leave their countries of origin such as war and repression.
The IPPR said that the number of people fleeing recent wars and repression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq pointed to the issues that ministers should address.
"There is an urgent need for 'joined up' policy making in which all relevant directorates-general of the European Commission and all the member state governments work together to achieve agreed objectives in addressing the root causes of forced migration," said the report.
The IPPR's Heaven Crawley said the recent situation in the Gulf indicated that the majority of asylum seekers are driven by conflict and repression.
"We know that the Iraqi people have suffered from massive violations of their human rights and the government has highlighted the experiences of Iraqi exiles in its decision to go to war.
"Yet over the last three years the vast majority of Iraqi asylum seekers have been refused refugee status and have therefore been viewed by the public as making unfounded claims for protection," said Crawley.
"The research also indicates that it is important to wait until conditions are stable in countries of origin before repatriation begins in order to ensure that the return of asylum seekers is sustainable and does not undermine the process of reconstruction"