Half a million people sought asylum in developed world in 2012 says UN

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued a report which says that 479,300 people from the developing world sought asylum in the developed world in 2012. The number is the highest total since 2003. Most are fleeing violence and war. 24,800 Syrians made asylum claims in the developed world in 2012. This was three times the number in 2011 but a mere fraction of the estimated 1m Syrians who are thought to have fled Syria and to be living in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

The purpose of the report is to assemble data on asylum applications to try to find trends in asylum movements. The report says that the numbers of asylum cases are rising. The number of applications made in the world's 'developed countries' by people from other countries are up by 8% on 2011. The number of claims in the EU rose by 7% though the number of cases in the southern countries of Europe in countries such as Italy and Greece fell by 27%. Meanwhile, the number of claims in Nordic Europe rose by 38%, Most of these claims were made in Sweden.

The report, Asylum Trends 2012, Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, looked at the number of asylum claims made in 38 European and 6 non-European states in 2012 from people from other undeveloped countries. These are considered, for the purposes of the report to be the world's 'industrialized countries'. The countries include all EU countries, other non-EU European countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Croatia as well as six non-European countries; The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

An asylum seeker is defined as 'an individual who has sought international protection and whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined'. Countries have a duty to consider whether an individual is a refugee or not once they have claimed asylum.

Claims up 8% on 2011

The total of 479,300 asylum claims was 8% higher than in 2011. The highest number of claimants, 36,600, came from Afghanistan. Syrians were second highest in number.

The countries from which the most refugees came are
Afghanistan 36,600
Syria 24,800
Serbia 24,300
China 24,100
Pakistan 23,200
Russian Federation 21,900
Iraq 19,600
Iran 19,100
Somalia 17,800
Eritrea 11,900
Mexico 11,500

Guterres urges countries to keep borders open

Antonio Guterres of the UNHCR said that fighting throughout the developing world was causing the problem. He said 'At a time of conflict, I urge countries to keep their borders open'.

Nearly 300,000 people, about two thirds of the global total, applied in the European Union, 7% higher than in 2011 though the highest number of applications was made in the United States.

The country breakdown is as follows
USA 83,400
Germany 64,500
France 54,900
Sweden 43,900
UK 27,800
Switzerland 25,900
Canada 20,500.

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