Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UNHCR Report: Trends for the first half of 2011

Serbian asylum seekers, via Serbian Herald
Today UNHCR released a report detailing asylum trends in 44 countries for the first half of 2011. It by no means offers a complete picture, given that it basically covers the Council of Europe plus a handful of other industrialized countries, but it is still packed with interesting findings. Among them:
  • Asylum applications are up overall by 17%, with the large majority (73%) being filed in Europe, but the USA accounting for the one single country receiving the most applications.
  • Asylum trends are not consistent over Europe, with applications down by 27% in the Nordic region (Danish immigration crackdown, anyone?) and asylum claims jumping by 57% in Southern Europe, especially in Turkey, Malta and Italy.
  • Afghanistan leads asylum seeker sending states, followed by China, Serbia (incl. Kosovo), Iraq and Iran.
  • The next 5 biggest sending states are Russia, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria
  • The top 5 receiving countries; USA, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK, received 53% of all the applications.
There are plenty of interesting findings within the report, but to me there are two big take-aways. First, "Arab Spring" didn't have the tremendous overall impact that one would expect- none of those countries involved made it into the top 10 asylum-seeker sending states, at least not for industrialized countries. On the other hand, Southern Europe's big jump in applications are partially attributable to Tunisia and Libya, which adds verification to the region's reputation as Europe's gatekeeper, and perhaps explains the upswing in anti-migrant violence we saw in Italy earlier this year.

The second interesting fact is Serbia's continued presence in the top 5 asylum-sending countries. Keeping in mind that Serbia has just been given the go-ahead for EU Applicant status, possibly to be agreed upon as soon as December, one can only hope that this will increase scrutiny of Serbia's human rights situation. Especially when it comes to the Roma, whom for my money probably make up the majority of asylum seekers.

You can read the whole report here:  Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries

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