The UK has let in 170,000 fewer refugees than its fair share over the past two years, new analysis by the Independent can reveal.
Over the past two years the UK - which has a population of 65 million - has provided refuge to just over 35,000 people fleeing war and persecution each year.
That is fewer than Hungary (143,000), Sweden (91,000) and Austria (53,000), all countries with populations of less than 10 million.
Charities and refugee groups condemned Britain's response to the mounting refugee crisis as highlighted by the figures, labelling it "woefully inadequate".
Based on analysis of the number of refugees who entered 30 European countries during 2014 and 2015 - around 1.9 million - the UK's 'fair share' of refugees based on its population would have been 240,000, or 120,000 a year.
A total of 660,000 arrived in the 30 countries - the 28 EU members plus Norway and Switzerland - in 2014 and 1.27m are estimated to have entered in 2015, based on Eurostat data for the first nine months of last year.
These 30 countries have a combined population of 522m, meaning one refugee per year has arrived for every 540 Europeans.
If every country accepted its ‘fair’ share of refugees, they would accept one for every 540 of their population in each of the past two years.
On that basis, a country the size of the UK, with 65m inhabitants, should have accepted 120,000 refugees per year in 2014-2015.
By only taking 35,000, the UK has taken 85,000 fewer each year than its fair share. No other country has been as unwelcoming.
By this measure, the actual number of refugees taken in under the Conservative Government since January 2014 represents only three for every 10 it should have accepted - leaving other countries to make up the difference.
Germany has taken 21 for every 10 it should have taken, while Sweden has taken 50 and Hungary has taken 78.
This analysis comes in the wake of news that a British man was spared jail after trying to smuggle a four-year old girl out of the Calais Jungle and reunite her with relatives in Britain.
The UK’s refugee response under the Tories offers a stark contrast to Germany’s - which has accepted nine times as many over the past two years.
Italy and France, which have similar populations to the UK, let in 73,000 and 67,000 refugees per year respectively in 2014 and 2015.
Britain has actually accepted fewer refugees in the past two years than it accepted per year in the previous 16 years, despite the number of European refugees tripling in 2014-2015.
From 1998 to 2013, the number of refugees fleeing to Europe was fairly constant. Each year, around 350,000 refugees were accepted into the 30 European countries.
After never exceeding 465,000 in any year between 1998 and 2013, Europe has accepted nearly two million in two years.
Yet the UK has cut its number of accepted asylum seekers by a fifth. Germany has taken five times as many.
The Scandinavian and Baltic states have also accepted many more.
Only seven of Europe’s 30 countries have accepted fewer refugees per year in 2014-2015 than they did in 1998-2013.
They are coloured in red in the chart below. The UK is one of them.
The UK’s unwelcoming approach is a relatively recent phenomenon. Between 1998 and 2013, it had a similar arrangement to Germany and France.
All three countries accepted around one refugee for every 1,500 inhabitants, in line with the average across Europe.
It was the Iberian and Baltic states who were the harshest hosts in Europe, and the UK had a better record than other big countries like Italy, Spain and Poland.
The International Rescue Committee welcomed the Independent’s analysis.
“These figures provide yet more evidence that the Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis is woefully inadequate,” said Jane Waterman, UK Executive Director of the IRC.
“The UK have offered sanctuary in a year to the same number as have been arriving in Munich over a single weekend.”
“Of course there are limits, but our considered view is that the UK could easily take more.”
Refugee crisis - in pictures
Refugee crisis - in pictures
A child looks through the fence at the Moria detention camp for migrants and refugees at the island of Lesbos on May 24, 2016.
Ahmad Zarour, 32, from Syria, reacts after his rescue by MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) while attempting to reach the Greek island of Agathonisi, Dodecanese, southeastern Agean Sea
Syrian migrants holding life vests gather onto a pebble beach in the Yesil liman district of Canakkale, northwestern Turkey, after being stopped by Turkish police in their attempt to reach the Greek island of Lesbos on 29 January 2016.
Refugees flash the 'V for victory' sign during a demonstration as they block the Greek-Macedonian border
Migrants have been braving sub zero temperatures as they cross the border from Macedonia into Serbia.
A sinking boat is seen behind a Turkish gendarme off the coast of Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016. At least 33 migrants drowned on January 30 when their boat sank in the Aegean Sea while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.
A general view of a shelter for migrants inside a hangar of the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, Germany
Refugees protest behind a fence against restrictions limiting passage at the Greek-Macedonian border, near Gevgelija. Since last week, Macedonia has restricted passage to northern Europe to only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who are considered war refugees. All other nationalities are deemed economic migrants and told to turn back. Macedonia has finished building a fence on its frontier with Greece becoming the latest country in Europe to build a border barrier aimed at checking the flow of refugees
A father and his child wait after being caught by Turkish gendarme on 27 January 2016 at Canakkale's Kucukkuyu district
Migrants make hand signals as they arrive into the southern Spanish port of Malaga on 27 January, 2016 after an inflatable boat carrying 55 Africans, seven of them women and six chidren, was rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the Spanish coast.
A refugee holds two children as dozens arrive on an overcrowded boat on the Greek island of Lesbos
A child, covered by emergency blankets, reacts as she arrives, with other refugees and migrants, on the Greek island of Lesbos, At least five migrants including three children, died after four boats sank between Turkey and Greece, as rescue workers searched the sea for dozens more, the Greek coastguard said
Migrants wait under outside the Moria registration camp on the Lesbos. Over 400,000 people have landed on Greek islands from neighbouring Turkey since the beginning of the year
The bodies of Christian refugees are buried separately from Muslim refugees at the Agios Panteleimonas cemetery in Mytilene, Lesbos
Macedonian police officers control a crowd of refugees as they prepare to enter a camp after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
A refugee tries to force the entry to a camp as Macedonian police officers control a crowd after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
Refugees are seen aboard a Turkish fishing boat as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast to Lesbos
An elderly woman sings a lullaby to baby on a beach after arriving with other refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
A man collapses as refugees make land from an overloaded rubber dinghy after crossing the Aegean see from Turkey, at the island of Lesbos
A girl reacts as refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
Refugees make a show of hands as they queue after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
People help a wheelchair user board a train with others, heading towards Serbia, at the transit camp for refugees near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija
Refugees board a train, after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, near Gevgelija. Macedonia is a key transit country in the Balkans migration route into the EU, with thousands of asylum seekers - many of them from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia - entering the country every day
An aerial picture shows the "New Jungle" refugee camp where some 3,500 people live while they attempt to enter Britain, near the port of Calais, northern France
A Syrian girl reacts as she helped by a volunteer upon her arrival from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos, after having crossed the Aegean Sea
Refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
Beds ready for use for migrants and refugees are prepared at a processing center on January 27, 2016 in Passau, Germany. The flow of migrants arriving in Passau has dropped to between 500 and 1,000 per day, down significantly from last November, when in the same region up to 6,000 migrants were arriving daily.
Kirsty McNeil, Campaigns Director of Save The Children, added: “Britain can't fix the refugee crisis alone, but we can play a greater role. It is time for Britain to offer a safe home to 3,000 child refugees.”
And Help Refugees, another charity, called the figures "disappointing to see."
"This problem is especially acute for the hundreds of unaccompanied minors in refugee camps like Calais who, both legally and morally, should be allowed to join their immediate family living in the UK," spokesperson said.
At a time when Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with Europe, his Government's refugee policy is unlikely to have created much goodwill among European leaders.
Eurostat's figures for the UK are collated slightly differently to the British government's, but the two sets of numbers are in line with another. The Independent has sought comment from the Home Office.
- More about:
- Refugees. Refugee crisis