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Media figures on asylum in Italy ‘misleading,’ UN refugee agency says

Media figures on asylum in Italy ‘misleading,’ UN refugee agency says

Over half of asylum applicants in Italy whose cases were examined on their merits in 2004 were judged to be in need of international protection, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

Responding to what it called “misleading statistics” being reported in the Italian media, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the figures being quoted – namely that 92 per cent of the 8,701 asylum applications were rejected – were a distortion of the full picture of the refugee situation there.

“There is a colossal difference between the figure of 8 per cent recognition currently being reported in the Italian media, and 51 per cent,” as the agency figures its rate of recognition of refugee claims, according to the spokesman.

Ron Redmond explained that the figure of 7,921 “rejected cases” included 2,352 people who were in fact subsequently granted various forms of international protection, in addition to the 780 applicants granted refugee status according to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Another 2,627 people who, for one reason or another dropped out of the process but were also classified as rejected might also include a certain proportion of refugees or people who would qualify for “subsidiary protection,” he said.

“If this group is discounted – because we have no idea whether they are or are not refugees – the number of asylum applications which have been actually examined on their merits by the (Italian eligibility) Commission is 6,074,” he added, thus bringing the percentages of those receiving protection under the Refugee Convention to 12.8 percent and those obtaining subsidiary protection to 38.7 percent.