More people from Iraq have sought asylum in the first nine months of this year than from any other country, according to new statistics released today by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Over 36,000 Iraqis applied for protection between January and September - almost 12,000 more claims than the next largest country of origin, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the agency reported.
The number of Iraqis applying for asylum spiked in the third quarter of 2002, increasing by 27 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
More than 10,000 asylum claims were filed by people from Yugoslavia, Turkey, Afghanistan, China, the Russian Federation, India and Colombia.
Applications from Afghans showed the largest decrease compared to last year, dropping by 48 per cent. For the first nine months of 2002, Afghans were the fourth largest group of asylum seekers, while during the same period last year, they were the single largest group.