Syrians on top of world's refugee list: UN

Friday, March 21, 2014

Industrialized countries see 28 per cent jump in asylum applications, acccording to a report by the UNHCR.

Industrialized countries see 28 per cent jump in asylum applications, acccording to a report by the UNHCR.

ANKARA - Syrians top the world's refugee list, trumping Afghanistan, which in the previous two years was the world’s principal country of origin for asylum seekers, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.

Among the top 10 countries of origin,  six are currently experiencing violence or conflict – Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan, according to a UNHCR report released today. 

A record number of asylum requests by Syrians and Russians in 2013 raised the total number received in 44 industrialized countries to it highest since 2001, UNHCR said. The total of 612,700 claims rose 28 percent from the year before.

“There is clear evidence in these numbers of how the Syria crisis in particular is affecting countries and regions of the world far removed from the Middle East,” said Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “This makes it all the more important that refugees and the communities receiving them are being properly and robustly supported.”

For 2013, the biggest increase in asylum applicants by region was in the 38 countries of Europe which together received 484,600 claims – an increase of a third from 2012. 

Germany was the largest single recipient with 109,600 new asylum claims followed by France (60,100) and Sweden (54,300) . 

Turkey, currently the biggest refugee hosting country in Europe due to the Syrian crisis with a registered Syrian refugee population of 640,889 as of 18 March, also saw 44,800 asylum claims lodged in 2013, mainly from nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report. 

The U.S. has long been a leading country of asylum in industrialized countries but it fell to second behind Germany in 2013 despite a rise of 25 percent from the year before, to 88,400 claims.

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