Syrians, Russians top world’s most asylum-seekers

Syrians, Russians top world’s most asylum-seekers
Fri Mar 21, 2014 20:30:32

Syria tops the world in having the highest number of people seeking asylum in other countries, the UN’s refugee agency says, as the foreign-charged insurgency goes on in the Arab country with no end in the sight.

Syrian asylum claims in 44 industrialized nations soared to 56,400 last year from 25,200 a year earlier and 8500 in 2011, the UNHCR said in a report on asylum trends.

“There is clear evidence in these numbers of how the Syria crisis in particular is affecting countries and regions of the world far removed from the Middle East,” UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said.

Syrians made up a full 9.4 per cent of the total 612,700 people who sought asylum last year in 38 European countries, as well as eight countries in North America, East Asia and the Pacific, according to the agency’s annual report.

Huge as the increase is, the number of formal asylum applications is dwarfed by the 2.6 million displaced Syrians sitting in camps in neighboring countries, with nearly one million Syrians in tiny Lebanon alone.

More than three years into the Syrian civil war that has killed more than 146,000 people, Jordan has also taken in about 584,000 Syrian refugees and there are about 226,000 in Iraq, the UN says.

Turkey, meanwhile, is housing nearly 641,000 Syrian refugees who have poured across its borders, and also received 44,000 individual asylum applications last year, making it by far Europe’s largest host country.

Afghanistan, which in recent years has produced the most asylum-seekers, was third in the UNHCR rankings last year, with Russia taking a surprising second, after coming in sixth last year.

The overall number of asylum-seekers to industrialized countries last year was 28 per cent higher than in 2012 and marked the highest total of any year since 2001, said Volker Turk, the UNHCR’s head of international protection. He said the hike was “a manifestation of ... what is actually going wrong in the world”.

Six of the top 10 refugee-producing nations are experiencing violence or conflict: Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan.

Germany was the largest recipient of asylum applications last year, tallying 109,600 - 11,900 of them from Syria.

France counted 60,100, while Sweden received 54,300, including 16,300 Syrians.

The US and Canada together received 98,800 asylum applications, mainly from China. Just over 2000 were from Syrians.

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