Europe not deluged by ‘bogus’ asylum-seekers, new UN statistics show
Responding to what it described as “somewhat frenzied” political debate in a number of European countries concerning migrants, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today issued new statistics showing a sharp drop in the number of people seeking asylum on the continent.
One of the released statistical charts presenting a 10-year overview of the number of applications in 30 industrialized countries contains some “striking” facts, according to a UNHCR spokesman.
Rupert Colville told a press briefing in Geneva that the total number of asylum-seekers arriving in the European Union last year was a little over half of what it had been the decade before. At the same time, in many countries the numbers were “not very high – particularly if you compare them with developing countries that have hundreds of thousands, or even – in the case of Iran and Pakistan – millions of refugees.”
Seven of the top 10 countries sending out asylum-seekers are conflict-wracked, according to UNHCR. Many of the migrants were “the product of the unresolved and festering situations in Afghanistan – at least until the end of last year – and Iraq,” Mr. Colville noted, adding, “It is also striking that four of the top six asylum-seeker producing countries are European countries.”
Taken together, the statistics provided little support for the idea prevalent in several European countries “that they are being deluged by fraudulent asylum-seekers, [and] that – to quote the common mantra – ‘the vast majority are bogus,’” he said. While stressing that UNHCR did not believe that all Iraqis or all Afghans, for example, should receive refugee status, the spokesman said it was “patently, extremely unfair to label people from countries such as these as ‘bogus’ or ‘fraudulent.’”
Mr. Colville voiced concern that the current European debate “is getting considerably overheated” and warned that if it produced rushed policy and law-making, this could have “very dangerous results for future refugees, either in terms of gaining access to Europe at all, or in getting a fair hearing and decent treatment once they are here.”