Photo: Asylum Seekers
The number of asylum-seekers seeking to live in the industrialized world continues to fall and is now almost half the level it was a decade ago, the United Nations refugee agency reported as it released its annual snapshot of asylum trends.
The report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) finds that 358,800 applications for asylum were lodged last year in 44 developed countries – a drop of 5 per cent on the 2009 figures and about 42 per cent below the levels of 2001, when nearly 620,000 applications were made.
Serbia – including Kosovo – provided the biggest number of asylum-seekers in 2010, with 28,900 claims lodged, compared to only 18,800 the previous year.
Within the developed world, the United States was the biggest recipient of asylum claims, with 55,500 lodged last year, due in part to an increase in applications from Chinese and Mexicans. France was second, with 47,800 claims, drawn largely from Serbian, Russian and Congolese asylum-seekers. Germany, Sweden and Canada rounded out the top five recipient nations.
UNHCR defines an asylum-seeker as an individual who has sought international protection and whose claim for refugee status has not been determined. A person is considered a refugee if he or she fulfils criteria set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention.