World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Asylum Seekers Reach Lowest Level In 16 Years

Asylum Seekers In Industrialized World Reach Lowest Level In 16 Years, UN Reports

The number of asylum seekers arriving in industrialized countries fell sharply for the third year in a row in 2004 to its lowest level in 16 years, a development that should undermine public campaigns that seek tighter controls on immigration, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

“This really should reduce the pressure by politicians, media and the public to make asylum systems more and more restrictive to the point where many genuine refugees have enormous difficulty getting access to Europe, or getting recognized once they are there,” said Raymond Hall, Director of the Europe Bureau of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“In most industrialized countries it should simply not be possible to claim there is a huge asylum crisis any more,” he added.

At 368,000, the total number of asylum seekers arriving last year in the 38 industrialized countries for which comparable historical statistics are available was the lowest since 1988. In the six non-European countries, the total was the lowest since 1986. The numbers arriving in Europe are also back down to the levels of the late 1980s, although still higher than they were for a couple of years in the mid-1990s.

Asylum claims in industrialized countries last year fell by 22 per cent, reflecting a similarly steep decline in 2003. In the European Union (EU), the number fell by 19 per cent, in North America by 26 per cent and in Australia and New Zealand by 28 per cent.

France was the top receiving country in 2004, with an estimated 61,600 asylum seekers. The United States, which was the top receiving country in 2003, came second with 52,400. Britain fell to third with 40,200, and Germany, the top asylum country in 13 of the past 20 years, was fourth with 35,600. Canada came in fifth with 25,500.

“Hopefully, with the numbers right down, most countries will now be able to devote more attention to improving the quality of their asylum systems, from the point of view of protecting refugees, rather than just cutting numbers," Mr. Hall said. “The EU could also take a giant step forward by working towards a system of responsibility and burden sharing, so that next time there is a crisis they are in a much better position to help the worst affected among them.”

The largest group of asylum seekers was from the Russian Federation with 30,100, the majority of them Chechens, followed by Serbia and Montenegro (22,300), many of them from Kosovo; China (19,700); Turkey (16,200) and India (11,900). The 10 leading asylum seeker nationalities all recorded a significant drop. Perhaps most striking, the number of Afghans, the top group in 2001 with more than 50,000, has fallen by 83 percent in the past three years. They now stand in 13th place with 8,800 asylum seekers in 2004.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news