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Total number of asylum seekers decline, says UNHCR

[Hindu, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 14:35 No Comment]

Sri Lanka is back again among the top 10 countries in the world whose citizens seek asylum, the latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) report says. The total number of asylum seekers across the world had dipped in 2010, it noted.

Sri Lanka was in the list of top 10 countries in 2007, as its Armed Forces began pushing into LTTE territory in the northern province. In the following two years, the country was No.12 and No.13 in the list of countries from where asylum seekers originate. In 2010, as many as 8874 persons from Sri Lanka sought asylum in 44 developed countries while in 2009, this number was higher — 9988.

A total of 3.47 lakh asylum applications were lodged in 44 developed countries in 2010, marginally lower than the 3.68 lakh applications that were filed in 2009. A majority of the applications in both 2009 and 2010 were filed in Europe — 2.87 lakh and 2.69 lakh respectively.

Statistics compiled by the UNHCR have shown a fall in the number of asylum-seekers in the industrialised world over the last 10 years. On Monday, UNHCR released the 2010 statistical overview of asylum applications lodged in Europe and selected non-European countries. In all, 44 industrialised countries were covered in the report on new asylum claims.

The report, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialised Countries 2010, published by the UN refugee agency, said that out of the 40 main asylum-seeker nationalities, 15 registered a rise during 2010 amounting to 23,200 claims. This is significantly less than in 2009 when 23 asylum-seeker nationalities recorded an increase.

“The 25 nationalities registering a decline in 2010 submitted a total of 42,400 claims less than in 2009. Among the major countries of origin of asylum-seekers, significant increases were registered from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (+599%) and Serbia (+54%).

“Conversely, of the 25 nationalities that recorded a decrease in 2010 as compared to 2009, 10 registered a drop of more than 20 per cent, including Zimbabwe (-69%), Mexico (-45%), Georgia (-33%), Nigeria (-29%), and Colombia (-30%).

“Serbia, Afghanistan, China, Iraq, and the Russian Federation were the five top source countries of asylum-seekers in the 44 industrialised countries in 2010. This is comparable to 2009, when Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Russian Federation, and China were the top-ranking source countries, the report said.

Other important source countries of asylum-seekers in 2010 were Somalia (17,000), the Islamic Republic of Iran (14,400), Pakistan (10,800), Nigeria (9,500), and Sri Lanka.

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