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Report on 2007 Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialised Countries

Briefing notes

Report on 2007 Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialised Countries

18 March 2008

For those of you who haven't seen it, copies of UNHCR's latest report on Asylum Levels and Trends In Industrialised Countries for 2007 are available at the back of the room.

Highlights of the 38-page report, compiled by our Field Information and Coordination Support Section with data provided by governments, include:

  • Some 338,000 new applications for refugee status were submitted last year in 43 industrialised countries, a 10 percent rise compared to 2006, when 306,300 asylum claims were registered.
  • 2007 saw a reversal in the 5-year downward trend in asylum applications in industrialised countries, largely because of an increase in the number of Iraqi asylum seekers.
  • For the second year running, Iraqis in 2007 topped the list of asylum seekers in the world's industrialised countries. The number of Iraqis applying for asylum almost doubled in one year, from 22,900 in 2006, to 45,200 in 2007.
  • Nevertheless, Iraqi asylum seekers in industrialised countries represent only 1 percent of the estimated 4.5 million Iraqis uprooted by the conflict - over 2.5 million of them within Iraq and another 2 million Iraqis in neighbouring countries such as Syria and Jordan, which are not included in the industrialised country statistics.
  • The top five countries of origin of asylum applicants in 2007 were Iraq (45,200), the Russian Federation (18,800), China (17,100), Serbia (15,400) and Pakistan (14,300).
  • Iraqis lodged asylum applications in 37 out of the 43 industrialised countries reporting, with Sweden accounting for 41 percent of them (18,600), making it the top destination for Iraqi asylum seekers among the countries counted.
  • The report notes that if current trends continue, the number of Iraqis submitting asylum claims in industrialised countries could in coming years reach the peak levels seen between 2000 and 2002, prior to the fall of the previous regime. The peak year was 2002, when 53,535 Iraqis applied for asylum in industrialised countries.
  • Half of all asylum applications were submitted by asylum seekers from Asia (including the Middle East). Africa was the second most important source continent (21 percent of all claims), followed by Europe (15 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (12 percent) and North America (1 percent).
  • The United States was the main country of destination for asylum seekers of all nationalities in 2007, with an estimated 49,200 new asylum claims. Sweden, which saw a 50 percent increase last year in the number of new asylum applications, was second with 36,200 claims, primarily by the arrival of large numbers of Iraqi asylum seekers.
  • After the United States and Sweden, the main countries of destination for asylum seekers in 2007 were France (29,200), Canada (28,300) and the United Kingdom (27,900). Greece, Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium were also among the top 10 receiving countries.