A breakdown down in society in what is modern day Scotland caused tribes of people north of Hadrian’s Wall to flee south seeking the protection of the Romans. Archaeologists believe they were housed in a refugee camp.
Dutch Protestants fled religious persecution in the Spanish Netherlands and settled in London and East England (beginning with Spanish soldiers executing Dutch Protestants at Haarlem, 1567).
In 1656, a commission declared that the Edict of Expulsion was no longer valid. This allowed Jewish immigration and allowed Jews who had pretended to be Christians to worship openly.
The Huguenots brought with them an organisational talent, knowledge of industrial processes, a determination to succeed in spite of being uprooted.
The Roman Catholics and aristocracy fled the 1789 French Revolution and came to Britain. They were later joined by people from the French monarchy restoration movements.
In response to the numbers of French refugees coming to Britain, and in particular a fear that some might be Napoleonic spies, Parliament passed the Alien Act in 1793.
This act made ship captains declare and provide the names and descriptions of all foreigners on their vessel.
This act required migrants to declare themselves in person at the Aliens Office or in writing to the Secretary of State every six months in order to be issued with a certificate.
Between 1845 and 1852, a disease destroyed Irish potato crops. Potatoes were the main food crop in Ireland and their destruction caused “The Great Famine,” in which a million people died and a further two million people left the country.
In 1848 royalists, socialists, republicans and liberals sought sanctuary in the UK, fleeing from conflicts across the European mainland. Among the exiles was a prominent political dissident who fled charges of high treason in Germany, Karl Marx.
During the 1880s, tens of thousands of Russian Jews fled pogroms and sought sanctuary in Britain. Jewish people also fled Poland, Romania and Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In 1905, the 1836 Act was replaced by a new one, which established a system of control and registration of immigrants. The Home Secretary was tasked with enforcing the Act.
In 1905 the 1836 Act was replaced by new act which established a system of control and registration of immigrants. The Home Secretary was tasked with enforcing the Act. An amendment to the act excluded refugees from being refused asylum on the grounds of not being able to support themselves.
This act required all aliens over the age of 16 to register with the police. This was the first time that the government had precise information on the number of migrants living in the country.
Germany invaded neutral Belgium on the 3rd august 1914 to outflank French fortifications. More than 250,000 Belgian refugees fled to the UK.
In October 1917, the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Russian Tsar and founded the Soviet Union. Forces loyal to the Tsar fought a civil war against the Bolsheviks. The war and the ruthless treatment of the Bolsheviks against enemies forced many opponents of the new regime into exile.
Following Turkey’s defeat in the First World War, Greece sought to acquire territory at its expense. An initially successful invasion was eventually repulsed with no Greek territorial gains. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled following this conflict.
This act extended the powers of the 1914 act. It restricted employment rights, barring aliens from employment in certain jobs, including the civil service. The act was renewed annually until 1971, when is was replaced by the Immigration Act.
In January 1933, the Nazi Party came to power in Germany. The Nazis were deeply anti-semitic, racist, anti-communist and eugenicist.
Some 4,000 Basque refugee children fleeing General Franco’s fascism in the Spanish Civil War arrived in the UK. There was huge public sympathy for the children who were housed initially in the North Stoneham Camp in Eastleigh, near Southampton.
Some 250,000 Polish refugees settled in the UK having arrived during the Second World War. Later, Polish refugees fled the new communist government in Poland.
Early in the Second World War, France was occupied by the German army and with it the British Channel Islands. During the Battle of France 30,000 civilians were evacuated from continental Europe and another 25,000 from the Channel Islands.
Many of these refugees returned to their homes in 1945, at the end of the war.
More than 50,000 refugees arrived from the Soviet Union, Romania and Czechoslovakia between 1945 and 1960.
The 1951 Refugee Convention is composed. It is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states worldwide.
On the 4th November 1956 Russian violently reasserted military control over Hungary. An estimated 200,000 refugees escaped the country of which 20,000 came to the UK.
- A personal contribution by a Refugee Week time-line follower: In March 1959, nine years after communist China had led a military assault on Tibet, there was a popular uprising against Chinese rule. Chinese forces moved to crush the rebellion, and on the night of 17 March 1959 the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa, the capital [...]
This act required all citizens of the Commonwealth who wanted to work in Britain to first apply for an employment voucher, therefore limiting the right of entry into the UK.
Following independence, Zanzibar was ruled by an Arab minority. Dissatisfied by this lack of representation, the two main African parties overthrew the government.
Thousands of Kenyan Asians were forced out of Kenya in the late 1960s and early 1970s in a populist attempt to create jobs for other ethnic groups. A legacy of the British Empire meant many Kenyan Asians had British Passports and thus came to the UK.
This act made all migration to Britain dependent on either having been born in Britain or having parents or grandparents who were.
- Contributed by Eastside Community Heritage, London From the late 1960s and early 1970s, members of the Luo community (a tribe in Western Kenya*) left their home to make a new life in the UK. For a variety of reasons, some came to the UK to work, some to study, others due to ethnic-political clashes. [...]
This act ended the special status of the Commonwealth in matters of migration. This led to reduced numbers of migrants from the Commonwealth coming to Britain.
Ethnic violence by the Burundian military against the Hutu population led many Burundians to seek refuge in Britain.
On the 4th August 1972 the President of Uganda, Idi Amin, expelled any one of Indian or Pakistani descent. Of the approximately 60,000 refugees expelled by Idi Amin 27,000 came to the United Kingdom.
Some 3,000 Chileans fleeing the violence of General Pinochet’s regime were allowed to enter the UK. However, despite their small numbers, their presence has left a lasting legacy.
After overthrowing the Emperor Haile Selassie a Military Junta called the Derg took established a one party state. Between 1977 and 1979, in what was called the “Red Terror”, they killed tens of thousands of their opponents and forced more to flee the country.
In 1974, some 12,000 Greek Cypriots, 2,000 Christians and around 15,000 Turkish Cypriots fled to Britain following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, and the overthrowing of Archbishop Makarios by a Greek-backed coup.
The first waves of Ethiopian refugees, many of Oromo origin, entered the UK between 1974 and 1986, following the fall of Haile Selassie’s government. Many individuals forced from their homes, feared political persecution under the newly- established military junta.
In 1975 tensions between Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims turned into civil war when an attempt to assassinate Pierre Jumayyil’s led to recrimination and violent reprisals. The war continued until 1991, killing 100,000 people and displacing 900,000.
Following its independence from Portugal, Angola descended into civil war as competing revolutionary factions battled for power. Despite several attempts by outside parties to broker peace, the war would continue until 2002, claiming half a million lives and displacing a million more.
Some 24,000 Vietnamese refugees entered the UK under a resettlement programme between 1975 and 1992.
In order to slow the growth in China’s population, the one child policy was introduced. Many women who are not exempt from the policy and have one more than one child are arrested and subjected to forced abortions and sterilisation. Many families fled to avoid this cruel treatment.
Some 5,000 Iranians came to the UK as refugees in the first five years after the Iranian Revolution (from 1979).
In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Fighting between the Soviets and Afghan opposition forces, human rights abuses as well as the economic and social reforms imposed by the Soviets caused a massive movement of people out of Afghanistan.
The intensification Columbia’s civil war causes Colombians to come to Britain escape human rights abuses perpetrated by the Government, right wing paramilitaries, drug cartels and left wing guerrillas.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, human rights abuses and violence in northern Uganda forced large numbers of Ugandans to seek asylum in the UK.
Many Ghanaians sought refuge in the UK following the 1979 coup d’état in Ghana. Amidst this political uncertainty, many feared imprisonment without trial, confiscation of property and execution because of their political beliefs.
Between 1980 and 1992, the number of Kurdish refugees fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime steadily rises. Many individuals resettled in established Iraqi communities.
The outbreak of the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983 created severe unrest within Sudan, with a peak of 1400 Sudanese seeking refuge in the UK. News of famine in 1993 further exacerbated the situation, with thousands of Sudanese displaced and in near starvation.
The civil war in Sri Lanka would last until May 2009, taking place between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil EeLam. Civilians suffered throughout the war and in its aftermath.
In 1988 rebel groups in Somalia captured the northern towns of Hageisa and Burao. The Somalian government retaliated with bombing raids on northern towns and villages, forcing thousands to flee to safety.
On the 3rd and 4th of June 1989, Chinese security forces attacked pro-democracy campaigners in Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were killed and many pro-democracy campaigners were forced to flee the country.
In 1990s, the main Guerrilla group in Colombia -FARC - was able to increase its military activities with money gained from kidnapping and drug trafficking. This rise in violence caused a peak in Colombians claiming Asylum in the UK.
A gradual return to multi-party politics saw violent power struggles and a rise in ethnic tensions. The number of Kenyans seeking refuge in Britain would peak between 1994-1996.
Between 1992 and 1996 some 2,500 Bosnians fled the war in the former Yugoslavia. They were given temporary protection status by the British government under a small quota resettlement programme.
In January 1992, the Algerian military took control of the country following the Islamic Salvation Front’s (FIS) victory in the first round of parliamentary elections. Between 1992 and 2003 5,486 asylum claims were made to the UK government by Algerians.
Albanian Kosovan Refugees are Given Temporary Protected Status in the UK Under the Humanitarian Evacuation
More than 4,000 mostly ethnic Albanian Kosovan refugees were given temporary protected status in the UK under the Humanitarian Evacuation Programme.
In 1997, rebels aided by Rwanda started to overthrow the government. They succeeded in capturing the capital and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fighting was characterised by astonishing brutality and once again people fled the country.
After a brief period of harmony following Eritrean Independence, disputes over borders erupted into a full-scale conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Both Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees were affected, with thousands of internally displaced persons at risk.
This act introduced a policy of dispersal for the first time. Asylum seekers and refugees are sent to contracted local authorities across the country.
The Falun Gong are religious groups who practice mediation and physical exercise and were banned in China in 1999.
The introduction of Sha’ria Law in the northern states of Nigeria caused latent ethnic and religious tensions to turn violent. This caused many to flee the country.
Government advances in UNITA strongholds led to an intensification of the the civil war. The gross human rights violations by both sides of the conflict caused a peak in numbers of people fleeing the country.
In 2000, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe started a campaign of land redistribution. The resulting state violence, political instability and severe economic crisis caused asylum claims in the United Kingdom to rise sharply in 2000 and peak in 2002.
The Eritrean governments enforced its ban on opposition political parties using state violence. This dissidents and other targets of the state escaped the country.
Ethnic divisions in Darfur, which saw black Africans marginalised by an Arab governing class, turned into a civil war when rebel groups attacked government forces.
The collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq (in 2003), and ongoing conflict has forced thousands of Iraqis from their homes. Following pressure from the international community, the UK government resettled 67 Iraqis in the UK under the Gateway Resettlement Program, rising to 432 individuals in 2009.
The Gateway Protection Programme (GPP) offers a legal route for up to 750 refugees to settle in the United Kingdom each year, and is completely separate from the standard procedure for claiming asylum in the United Kingdom.
Disputed elections and government violence caused targets of the state leave the country.
The act granted new powers, gave more resources and introduced more technology to enforce immigration laws and to stop illegal working.
In the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics huge protests and anti-Chinese rule swept the Tibetan plateau
- Contributed by Fresh Memories: In the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics huge protests and anti- Chinese rule swept the Tibetan plateau. Many of these protests were violently put down by Chinese forces, and thousands of protesters were rounded up and imprisoned. Following this uprising Chinese authorities began tightening border security in order [...]
This act strengthened border controls and brought together customs and immigration powers.
The war started after protests against dictator Muammar Gaddafi were fired upon by security forces. This escalated the local protest to a full scale civil war.
In April 2011, the Syrian Army fired on demonstrators protesting against the rule of Bashar al-Assad. These protests turned into open military rebellion against the government.