News / Middle East

Syria Tops List Of Asylum Seekers in Industrialized Countries

FILE - Asylum seekers stand outside an accommodation at a refugee holding center in the town of Bad Belzig some 135 km (84 miles) southwest of Berlin.
FILE - Asylum seekers stand outside an accommodation at a refugee holding center in the town of Bad Belzig some 135 km (84 miles) southwest of Berlin.
Lisa Schlein
A new report finds that Syria is churning out the largest number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries. The U.N. refugee agency's just-released report on asylum trends in 2013 shows a sharp rise in asylum claims in 44 industrialized countries last year.
 
The report says nearly 613,000 people lodged claims for asylum in North America, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific last year. This is the highest total for any year since 2001.
 
The UNHCR said this sharp rise in asylum seekers is being driven primarily by the crisis in Syria.
 
That country now tops the list as the world's main origin for asylum-seekers, bumping Afghanistan into second position, with Russia in third place. 
 
The director of UNHCR's Division of International Protection, Volker Turk, called Syria an international game changer. He said the number of Syrian asylum seekers shows how that country is affecting other regions and countries in the industrialized world, although they are far removed from the crisis in the Middle East.
 
"Last year, I was in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt. And it is clear that the longer that people are in displacement in often very difficult situations in the neighboring countries, the more you will see that desperation drives them to get on with their lives, to reunite with family members in other countries and to find ways and means to get out of an often very difficult situation," said Turk.
 
The report finds that six of the top 10 countries of origin, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan, are experiencing violence or conflict. It notes the 38 countries in Europe attracted the biggest increase in asylum claims - nearly 485,000. Germany received the largest number, followed by France and Sweden.
 
The report says North America received the second highest number of asylum claims, amounting to nearly 99,000. It says the United States is second only to Germany in the number of applications received.
 
Turk said the numbers of asylum seekers in this year's report clearly reflects what is happening in the world today.
 
"You will see that the numbers in relation to Central African Republic nationals seeking asylum is not yet reflected in these numbers, neither is South Sudanese.  But, as we could see with Syrians, there may well be at some stage. The longer a conflict lasts, you may see the ripple effects of current crises that have not yet had an impact on the industrialized world. The longer these crises last, they may well have an impact on the industrialized world," said Turk. 
 
The report says the acceptance rate of asylum seekers - those who are recognized as refugees or are given temporary international protection - varies widely. It says they tend to be higher among people fleeing conflict.
 
For example, it notes acceptance rates for people from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan are between 62 percent and 95 percent.  On the other hand, acceptance rates from nationals of the Russian Federation, most of whom are Chechens, and Serbia and Kosovo are significantly lower. These countries, which are not at war, have an acceptance rate of around 28 percent and 5 percent respectively.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs