Fall in asylum applications in most industrialized countries continues unabated – UN

19 September 2006

Asylum applications in most industrialized countries continue to drop, largely due to fewer people applying in Europe after the introduction of more restrictive policies as well as to improved conditions in some of the main countries of origin, according to latest United Nations statistics released today.

Asylum applications in most industrialized countries continue to drop, largely due to fewer people applying in Europe after the introduction of more restrictive policies as well as to improved conditions in some of the main countries of origin, according to latest United Nations statistics released today.

The report, based on provisional data provided to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) by governments, indicates that during the first six months of 2006, 134,900 asylum applications were submitted in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - a drop of 14 per cent over the same period last year. The applications are 15 per cent lower than the previous semester - July to December 2005.

Last year saw the lowest number of asylum seekers in industrialized countries since 1987. Figures for the first half of this year point to 2006 reaching yet lower records. In Europe, a total of 97,000 new asylum applications were submitted during the first six months of 2006, 19 per cent fewer than during the corresponding period in 2005 and 21 per cent fewer than in the previous six months.

Over the past few years, 80 per cent of asylum requests in industrialized countries were made in Europe. Europe's share has now declined to roughly 70 per cent of asylum applications in the 36 industrialized countries included in the UNHCR report.

At the same time, North America's share has increased from about 20 per cent of all applications in industrialized countries to nearly 30 per cent during the first semester of 2006. The share of Australia and New Zealand has remained stable at about 1 per cent.

The United States received the largest number of asylum applications – 25,500 or 19 per cent of the total number of applications lodged in industrialized countries, followed by France (16,400), the United Kingdom (13,900), Germany (10,600) and Canada (10,100).

The main countries of origin were China (8,800), followed by Iraq (8,500), Serbia and Montenegro (8,000), Russia (6,900) and Turkey (4,600). Among the few nationalities recording a rise in applicants were Iraqis with a 25 per cent increase over the previous six months and up almost 50 per cent over the same period a year ago.

 

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