UN agency: More asylum seekers in 08, Iraqi numbers decline
Iraqis remain the largest group of people seeking asylum in the world's industrialized nations in the first half of 2008, though the overall number is dropping as the situation in Iraq stabilizes, reported the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reported dpa.
Overall, the first six months of 2008 registered 165,100 requests for asylum, a 3 per cent increase versus the same time period for 2007, reported the agency in a report released Friday. Figures also showed a 9 per cent increase for 2007 over 2006.
Iraqis remained the largest group of asylum seekers, with 19,500 asylum applications, constituting 12 percent of all applications to a group of 44 industrialized nations, comprised mainly of nations in Europe, plus Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America.
Nonetheless, that represented an 18 per cent decrease versus the last six months of 2007 and almost a 10 per cent decrease over the first six months of 2007.
The UNHCR reported that the next highest number of asylum requests for the first half of 2008 - 9,400 - came from Russia. Next came China with 8,600, Somalia, with 7,400 and Pakistan and Afghanistan, each with 6,300.
The agency reported increases in the number of Somali and Afghan residents seeking asylum, while figures from the other countries remained stable or dropped.
The United States remain the largest recipient nation for asylum seekers. Canada, France, Britain and Sweden, in that order, are the next biggest recipients.