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  1. ITV Report

How many Syrian refugees has Britain really taken in?

As concerns about the crisis mount, there have been numerous claims and counter claims about how many Syrian refugees Britain has taken in, and how that compares to other European nations.

Numerous press outlets have cited figures claiming that just 216 asylum seekers have been accepted into Britain from the war-torn country, while the government claims the number is around 5,000.

Britain has taken around 5,000 refugees from Syria - far fewer than some other European countries. Credit: Reuters

So which figure is true?

The 216 people cited in a number of media reports refers to the number of Syrians brought to Britain under a specific scheme - the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

This scheme - which the British government created last year - grants five years' humanitarian protection to vulnerable Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon or Turkey, where "evacuation from the region is the only option".

Of more than four million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, around 3 million are in these two countries.

216
number resettled to UK from areas such as Lebanon and Turkey via VPRS (source: Home Office)
1,000
the current cap on the number of Syrians the UK will take under the VPRS (source: Home Office)

However, this relocation programme only reflects a relatively small aspect of the British response to the crisis - and ignores those that have made it to Britain and sought asylum.

The latest available government figures - which count up to June 2015 - show that 4,866 asylum applications were accepted for people from Syria.

Added to the 216 mentioned above, that is 5,085 - just over the 5,000 the government claims.

4,866
asylum applications accepted from Syria since Q2 2011 (source: Home Office)
87%
of asylum applications from Syria between Jun 2013 and Jun 2015 were accepted (source: Home Office)

As the asylum process takes several months, and sometimes more, some of these could have applied long before the civil war started. On the same basis it is possible that many more will also be accepted in the coming months.

The government recently said it had accepted 87% of the 3,892 Syrian asylum applications made between June 2013 and June 2015.

Ministers also point out that the UK has given £900 million in aid to neighbouring countries struggling with the impact of millions of Syrian refugees.

Which European countries receive the highest number of asylum applications from Syria?

Britain is the 10th most popular destinations in Europe with Syrian asylum seekers, but in terms of numbers it is a long way from the top of the list.

For every one application received in Britain between June 2014 and 2015, 27 were received in Germany.

Between April 2011 and July 2015, Germany and Sweden have received 47% of all applications from Syrians in the European Union.

The following table charts applications to the top four European nations in that time, compared to the UK (but does not show the numbers accepted).

98,783
Germany
64,685
Sweden
49,446
Serbia (and Kosovo)
18,777
Hungary
7,030
Britain

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