Refugees fleeing countries in 2011, ‘a crisis unlike any other’ – UNHCR

In the first six months of 2011, asylum application in industrialized countries increased by 17%, as Europe registered the highest number of claims.

A report released by UNHCR - the United Nation’s refugees agency - shows industrialized countries saw a 17% increase in asylum applications in the first half of this year, with most claimants coming from countries with longstanding displacement situations.

The ‘Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, First Half 2011’ report shows that 198,300 asylum applications were lodged in the period between 1 January and 30 June 2011, compared to 169,300 in the same period a year earlier.

UNHCR’s head António Guterres described 2011 as “a year of displacement crises unlike any other I have seen in my time as High Commissioner.”

He however noted that their impact on asylum claims in industrialized countries seems to have been lower so far than might have been expected, as most of those who fled went to neighbouring countries.

“Nonetheless we are grateful that the industrialized states have continued to respect the right of people to have their claims to asylum heard,” Guterres added.

UNHCR forecasts that 2011 may see 420,000 applications by year’s end - the highest total in eight years. This because application rates normally peak during the second half of the year, it added.

So far, major forced displacement crises derived from West, North, and East Africa. The report finds related increases in asylum claims among Tunisians, Ivorians, and Libyans (4,600, 3,300 and 2,000 claims respectively).

“But overall, the impact of these events on application rates in industrialized countries has been limited,” UNHCR stressed.

The report carried its survey across 44 countries. It found that the origin of asylum countries remained largely unchanged from previous surveys:

Afghanistan (15,300 claims), China (11,700 claims), Serbia [and Kosovo: Security Council Resolution 1244] (10,300 claims), Iraq (10,100 claims), and Iran (7,600 claims). 

By continent, Europe registered the highest number of claims with 73% of all asylum applications in industrialized countries. Only Australasia saw a significant decline in applicants with 5,100 claims compared with 6,300 a year earlier.

The report also reveals that by country, the United States had more claims (36,400) than any other industrialized nation, followed by France (26,100), Germany (20,100), Sweden (12,600), and the United Kingdom (12,200).

The Nordic region was the only part of Europe to see a fall in asylum applications. Meanwhile, in Northeast Asia applications more than doubled - 1,300 claims were lodged in Japan and South Korea compared to 600 in the first half of 2010.

The report does not show how many applications translate into the granting of asylum (i.e. refugee status), nor are its findings an indicator of migration rates. The report complements UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report, issued in June each year, and which this year found that 80% of refugees are being hosted in developing countries.

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These ‘cowards’ do not take the risk of crossing the desert and the sea just for kicks. There must be something forcing them to leave their countries – it might not necessarily be persecution and is often the sort of poverty you can’t feed your kids. Think! You can’t be more than one or two generations removed from those who - not necessarily dying of hunger - left Malta to be called dirty Maltese leeches in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Ontario. Ask them to tell you the meaning of human dignity.
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Sorry to inform you but you are wrong on all counts truth seeker.
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eleonoray86cws Ca?uana
@Maltabiss Thank goodness Malta is full of courageous online warriors willing to spill their blood for our freedom. Reminds me of lgalea posting nasty comments on the Times, only to change his name to Tony Camilleri after convicted of spreading defamatory information anonymously.
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‎'Maltabiss' wrote: "Send them back to build their own countries not run away like cowards." Who's the coward, hiding their name?
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Send them back to build their own countries not run away like cowards.