What’s in a number? The Hungarian claims

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Date: 
24 Apr 2010

In presenting his proposed Refugee Reform, Minister Kenney has repeatedly referred to the supposed 97% of Hungarian refugee claims that are withdrawn or abandoned (e.g. CBC)

So how many Hungarians withdrew or abandoned their claims in 2009?

259.

How many Hungarians made claims in 2009? 

2,440.

Clearly not 97%! 

Whoever supplied Minister Kenney with these statistics obviously didn’t explain that the figure of 97% refers to the percentage of claims finalized.  Since hardly any Hungarians were given a decision on their claim in 2009, the withdrawn and abandoned claims are almost the only claims finalized.

The overwhelming majority of Hungarian claimants were still waiting for a hearing or a decision at the end of 2009 (2,434 claims pending – this figure includes some claims made before 2009).  Presumably those Hungarians with the most to fear if returned are among these claimants still waiting.

Of the 259 withdrawn/abandoned claims, most (204) withdrew their claims, meaning that the claimants took action to stop their refugee claim going forward. 

If we are concerned about the refugee claim process being used by people who don’t need protection, shouldn’t we be pleased if people withdraw?  Might it not suggest that after understanding more clearly the refugee definition, they realized they didn’t belong in the process?  By withdrawing, they save the system the cost of a hearing.

For more on Refugee Reform.