UN: Afghans Top List of Asylum Seekers in 2011

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 6:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations refugee agency says Afghans topped the list of asylum-seekers to industrialized countries in 2011.

A data analyst for the Geneva-based UNHCR, Tarek Abou Chabake, told VOA Afghanistan is the top source country, followed by China and Iraq.

Chabake said that overall, asylum applications to the countries surveyed rose 20 percent in 2011, but the numbers of Afghans who have applied for asylum went up even more dramatically — by about 30 percent.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said there have been a record number a asylum seekers originating from Libya, Tunisia, Syria and Ivory Coast. He called 2011 a year of “great difficulty” for many people.

The U.N. report issued Tuesday covers 44 industrialized countries in Europe, North America, Australasia and Northeast Asia. It says those countries received more than 440,000 claims in 2011, compared to about 370,000 a year earlier.

One in six asylum seekers applied to the United States. Southern Europe saw the largest regional rise in applicants, with most arriving by boat in Italy and Malta. Only the Nordic countries and Australia saw a decline in the number of asylum-seekers.

Globally, the country with the most asylum claims in 2011 was South Africa.