Iraq blamed for increased asylum seekers

March 18th, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by admin  

Geneva, March 18 (DPA) A five-year downward trend in asylum applications in industrialized countries was reversed in 2007, mainly due to an increased number of Iraqis seeking asylum, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in Geneva Tuesday. Some 338,000 new applications for refugee status were submitted last year in 43 industrialized countries, up 10 percent compared to 2006, when 306,300 asylum claims were registered, the lowest number in 20 years.

Iraqis topped the list of asylum seekers in industrialized countries for the second year - the number almost doubled in one year, from 22,900 in 2006, to 45,200 in 2007.

It is estimated that 4.5 million Iraqis have been uprooted since the US-led invasion five years ago.

Some 2.5 million have been displaced within Iraq and another 2 million fled to neighbouring countries such as Syria and Jordan.

The top five countries of origin for asylum applicants in 2007 were Iraq (45,200), the Russian Federation (18,800), China (17,100), Serbia (15,400) and Pakistan (14,300).

Half of all asylum applications were submitted by asylum seekers from Asia, including the Middle East, while the second highest number of claims came from Africa.

The US was the main country of destination for asylum seekers in 2007, making up 15 percent of all applications in industrialized countries.

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