By Tom Brady Security Editor - Irish Independant
Monday October 12 2009
IMMIGRATION authorities have uncovered a scam involving African asylum seekers, who claim to be from Somalia.
Three out of five were found to have lied about their background.
The applicants are posing as Somalis to boost their chances of being granted refugee status because they are less likely to be deported back to the war-torn country.
But a check on the background of a targeted group over the past six months has established that the majority of them were from neighbouring countries. The check was carried out using the Eurodac fingerprint system and visa databases established in the UK.
Immigration officials have also employed the help of a Swedish language analysis company when interviewing applicants.
Linguists listen to the interviews and, by analysing the dialects, try to determine the home countries of the asylum seekers.
Officials sent a batch of 104 cases to the UK, where embassies must keep records of their citizens applying for visas. An investigation of the batch concluded that 63 of them had an immigration history in the UK and also determined that only 8 out of the 63 were from Somalia.
The nationality breakdown of the 'Somali' asylum seekers showed that 44 -- or two-fifths of the original batch -- were from Tanzania, eight from Somalia, six from Kenya, three from Yemen, and one each from Ethiopia and Djibouti.
The investigation also established that five out of the eight genuine Somalis already had an asylum history in the UK.
Inquiries have established that the scam mainly involves applicants from countries in the Horn of Africa.
Those found to have made false claims about their immigration history will either be deported back home or else sent back to the UK, where they were based previously. Under the Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers can be transferred to the EU country where they made their initial application.
This was introduced by the EU because many people were attempting to gain asylum status in several countries.
A large percentage of them arrived here without any documentation, and, until the fingerprint assistance system was streamlined, the authorities had difficulties establishing their origins.
An overall check on all asylum applicants who lodged their claims here in 2008 showed that seven out of 10 had an immigration history in the UK.
Six out of 10 applicants, on average, arrive into the State without any travel documents but the figure rises to 90pc in the case of Nigerians, although many of them are subsequently found to have had travel visas to the UK.
Immigration officials reckon that about 70pc of those found to have breached the ban on making multiple applications in EU member states, are traced and transferred.
Around 1,000 bogus asylum seekers left the State in 2008, a rise of 23pc on the corresponding figure for 2007. Officials say the increase is due to the increasing enforcement.