Asylum-seeker numbers rise by a quarter - UNHCR

2014-09-26 12:09
A Syrian-Kurdish children sitting on a bed at the Quru Gusik refugee camp, 20km east of the of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. (Safin Hamed, AFP)

A Syrian-Kurdish children sitting on a bed at the Quru Gusik refugee camp, 20km east of the of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. (Safin Hamed, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - The number of asylum-seekers in industrialised countries has risen by nearly a quarter, driven by the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as instability in Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere, the UN refugee agency said Friday.

In the first six months of this year, the total number of people requesting refugee status in such countries rose to 330 700, a 24% increase on the same period in 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.

"We are clearly into an era of growing conflict," said UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres in a statement on his agency's latest Asylum Trends report.

"The global humanitarian system is already in great difficulty. The international community needs to prepare their populations for the reality that in the absence of solutions to conflict more and more people are going to need refuge and care in the coming months and years."

Guterres also said that as things stand, it does not appear that resources and access to asylum procedures will be available for those in desperate need.

The report was based on data received from 44 governments in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on historical norms of higher numbers of asylum-seekers in the second half of each year, it said the 2014 total could hit 700 000.

That would mark a 20-year high for industrialised countries, and a level unseen since the Balkan wars of the 1990s sparked by the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The bulk of new asylum claims was in just six countries: Germany, the United States, France, Sweden, Turkey and Italy.

Central Europe, in particular Hungary and Poland, as well as Australia, saw declines in the number of people asking for refugee status.

Overall, Syria was the main country of origin of people seeking asylum, with claims more than doubling to 48 400 from the 18 900 filed in the first half of 2013.

Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people have fled in the face of the offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group, produced 21 300 asylum applications, followed by Afghanistan with 19 300, and Eritrea with 18 900.

UNHCR underlined that the number of people applying for refugee status in the 44 industrialised countries covered by the report only paints part of the picture.

Worldwide, 51.2 million were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2013, mostly remaining within their embattled homelands' borders or fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  isis
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.