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2005 asylum statistics for industrialized countries

Briefing notes

2005 asylum statistics for industrialized countries

17 March 2006

We are releasing our annual report on asylum applications in industrialised countries, along with a press release summarizing the main findings of the report. Some of the highlights are as follows:

Asylum applications in industrialized countries fell sharply in 2005 for the fourth year in a row. Last year, 336,000 asylum applications were submitted, 15 percent fewer than in 2004.

In the last five years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in all industrialized countries has fallen by half.

The total number of asylum seekers arriving last year in the 38 industrialized countries for which comparable, long-term historical statistics are available was the lowest since 1987, at 331,600.

In the 25 countries of the European Union, as well as in Europe as a whole, the number of asylum seekers last year was the lowest since 1988.

In most individual asylum countries, the 2005 total was the lowest for many years. In Denmark and Germany, for example, the number is the lowest since 1983; in Canada since 1985 and in Switzerland since 1986. In the United Kingdom, the number of asylum applications in 2005 was the lowest since 1993.

Asylum applications in the European Union dropped by 16 percent last year, compared to 2004. The sharpest decrease was recorded in the 10 new EU member countries where claims went down by 35 percent, compared to a decrease of 12 percent in the other 15 EU countries.

The largest drop in the number of asylum seekers in the last five years was recorded outside Europe. Canada and the United States received 54 percent fewer asylum requests in 2005 than in 2001, while asylum applications in Australia and New Zealand plummeted by 75 percent in the same period.

Despite a 15 percent drop in asylum claims last year, France was the top receiving country in 2005, with an estimated 50,000 new asylum applications. The United States came second with 48,800 new asylum claims. The UK was third with 30,500, and Germany was in fourth place with 28,900. Austria came in fifth with 22,500.

The largest group of asylum seekers in 2005 was from Serbia and Montenegro, which includes asylum seekers from Kosovo; followed by the Russian Federation, which includes asylum seekers from Chechnya. China remained the third largest country of origin for asylum seekers, followed by Iraq and Turkey.

Of the ten leading asylum-seeker nationalities, Iraqis and Haitians rose the sharpest in 2005, both by 27 per cent, while the number of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Turkey continued to drop steadily.