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Third quarter asylum statistics

Briefing notes

Third quarter asylum statistics

16 November 2004

The total number of asylum applications lodged in 36 industrialised countries during the first three quarters of 2004 fell by 22 percent over the same period a year ago, according to new third-quarter statistics compiled by UNHCR's Population Data Unit.

The statistics, covering Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, show asylum applications totalled 271,700 during the first three quarters of this year, compared with 349,600 for the same period in 2003. That's a drop of 77,900.

While the nine-month total of applications was down sharply compared to the same period a year ago, there was a slight quarterly increase of just over 4 percent from the second quarter of 2004 to the third quarter. During the third quarter of 2004, a total of 90,500 asylum applications were submitted in the 36 countries, compared with 87,100 in the previous quarter. But the 2004 quarterly figure was still 24 percent below the third-quarter level of 2003 (118,500).

People from the Russian Federation, predominantly Chechens, remained the largest single group of asylum seekers in the third quarter.

From Q2 to Q3 of 2004, 14 of the 36 industrialised countries experienced a fall in the number of new asylum claims lodged; 20 countries reported an increase; while two remained the same.

In Europe as a whole, quarterly asylum levels increased by 5 percent from Q2 to Q3 of 2004, but fell by 24 percent compared to Q3 of 2003.

In the European Union (EU), 6 percent more asylum claims were submitted in Q3 than in Q2 of 2004, but were 20 percent fewer compared to Q3 of 2003. The enlarged EU currently receives 75 percent of all asylum claims submitted in the 36 industrialised countries.

North America registered 1 percent more asylum seekers in the Q3 of 2004, but a 23 percent fall compared to the Q3 of 2003. Australia/New Zealand was the only region where the latest quarterly trends showed a sharp drop - minus 9 percent. Since Q3 of 2003, new applications have plummeted by 29 percent in the two countries. And since the beginning of 2003, the fall in asylum seekers has been more pronounced in North America and Australia/New Zealand than in Europe.

France has been the leading asylum seeker receiving country since the last quarter of 2003. Asylum applications lodged in France increased by 15 percent in Q3 of 2004. As a result, France's share of the total number of claims lodged in the 36 countries increased slightly, from 15 percent in Q4 of 2004 to 18 percent in Q3 of 2004. The United Kingdom was the second major receiving country in Q3 of 2004, replacing the United States, which fell to third following a 6 percent drop in claims in Q3 of 2004. Germany was the No. 4 receiving country, followed by Austria, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and Cyprus. Cyprus climbed from No. 22 receiving country in Q3 of 2003 (510 new asylum claims filed) to tenth place in Q3 of 2004, when 2,840 claims were filed.

There was no quarterly change in the ranking of the main asylum seeker nationalities. The Russian Federation - predominantly Chechens - continues to be leading country of origin of asylum seekers in the 36 industrialized countries, with 6,963 applications lodged in the third quarter. It was followed by Serbia and Montenegro (5,733), China (4,483) and Turkey (3,930). Nigeria was fifth with 2,966 applications.

The Islamic Republic of Iran moved up from the 13th position in Q2 to 7th in the third quarter, while Iraq rose from the 14th rank in Q1 to the 8th in Q3. Somalia fell from the 8th position in Q1 to the 12th in Q3 of 2004, while Algeria fell from the 7th to the 14th position during the same timeframe.