Asylum statistics, first half of 2002
New statistics compiled by UNHCR on asylum seekers in 28 mostly industrialised countries show that overall in the first six months of 2002 the number of people seeking asylum fell by 12 percent compared to the previous six-month period. Applications in Europe were down by 12 percent compared to the last six months of 2001, and applications in the EU were down by 9 percent. Applications in Central Europe fell by almost 39 percent compared to the second half of 2001, in large part due to a steep decline in applications from Afghans (down 58 percent in Central Europe). In all 28 countries combined, some 268,500 applications were filed from January to June of this year.
A number of individual countries, however, saw increases in the number of applicants compared to the second half of 2001. The largest percentage increases were in Finland (up by 59 percent with 1,400 applicants) and Bulgaria (up by 54 percent with 2,055 applicants). Austria saw an increase of 13 percent, the United States received 9 percent more applications and the UK showed an increase of 8 percent. The largest percentage decreases over the second half of 2001 were noted in Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Iraq remained the largest nationality of origin of asylum seekers overall in the 28 countries combined, with 22,836 applications in the first half of the year. This represents, however, a 15 percent drop compared to the last half of 2001. Applications from Afghans continued to fall over the first half of 2002, with a decrease of 44 percent in the 28 countries combined compared to the second half of 2001. In all, 15,514 Afghan applications were lodged from January to June this year, making Afghans the second largest nationality seeking asylum in the 28 countries combined, followed by Turkey, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, China, the Russian Federation, Colombia, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India.