Number of Chinese seeking asylum falls after Dover tragedy

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Indy Politics

A sharp fall in the number of Chinese asylum-seekers coming to Britain was reported by the Home Office yesterday in the wake of the deaths of 58 young migrants in a lorry at Dover in June.

A sharp fall in the number of Chinese asylum-seekers coming to Britain was reported by the Home Office yesterday in the wake of the deaths of 58 young migrants in a lorry at Dover in June.

Last month only 280 Chinese claimed asylum in Britain, compared with 385 for June and 575 for May. Chinese immigration lawyers said yesterday that the leaders of the "snakehead" Chinese illegal immigration gangs had been driven into hiding in Europe and China after the tragedy at the Kent port.

A Chinese immigration lawyer, David Tang, said: "It is more difficult for them to come than before. After Dover, a lot of immigration authorities in Europe have tightened up their controls."

Mr Tang, who represents some of the relatives of the Dover victims, said the tragedy would not dissuade people in the south-eastern province of Fujian from wanting to emigrate. "It is the same with plane crashes. People see them but they are still willing to board a flight. In Fujian they can still see the money being sent home from abroad and being spent on buying houses."

Young Fujianese pay the gangs between £15,000 and £30,000 for their passage to Britain or the United States.

On 18 June, the 58 Chinese migrants were found suffocated in the back of a lorry which had arrived from Zeebrugge carrying tomatoes. Two young men survived. The Dutch lorry driver, Perry Wacker, 32, is facing 58 counts of manslaughter.

Kent police said yesterday that four of the dead had been formally, and 51 provisionally, identified. Officers will fly to China next month in an attempt to obtain confirmation of the provisionally identified migrants through their families.

Last month's asylum figures showed that 6,255 applications were made, slightly more than for June but less than for the same period last year. There has been a big rise in Iraqi asylum-seekers,with 605 claims in July, double the rate of previous months.

The backlog of outstanding asylum applications has continued to fall and stands at 82,355, compared with 105,000 at the end of January.

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