UNHCR Asylum Levels and Trends 2014 in Industrialized Countries: Highest number of asylum applications since 1992

UNHCR released statistics on the number of asylum applications in 2014 in 44 industrialized countries, showing an increase by 45 per cent compared to 2013. Syria is the top country of origin, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The UN refugee agency reported on Thursday that the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as armed conflicts, human rights violations and deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in other countries, pushed the number of asylum applications in industrialized countries to a 22-year high last year.

The Asylum Trends 2014 report puts the estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000, a 45 per cent increase from 2013, when 596,600 claims were registered. The 2014 figure is the highest since 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [...]

Syrians were by far the largest group among those seeking asylum in 2014, with almost 150,000 applications, one in every five asylum claims in the industrialized world. Iraqis accounted for 68,700 applications, almost double the number in 2013. Afghans were the third largest group, with almost 60,000 applications, followed by citizens of Serbia (and Kosovo) and Eritreans.

The industrialized country receiving the largest number of asylum-seekers in 2014 was Germany, with more than 173,000 applications. Syrians made up a quarter of all asylum applications in Germany. The United States received an estimated 121,200 asylum claims, mostly from Mexico and countries in Central America.

Turkey, which by the end of last year hosted over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, received 87,800 new asylum applications in 2014, mainly from Iraqis. Sweden ranked fourth among the 44 industrialized countries, with 75,100 applications, mainly from Syrians and Eritreans. Italy registered 63,700 new applications in 2014, the highest on record. Asylum-seekers in Italy came mainly from Mali, Nigeria and Gambia.

The Russian Federation, which is not included in this report for methodological reasons, received some 265,400 applications for temporary asylum and 5,800 applications for refugee status from Ukrainians during 2014. At the same time, the number of Ukrainians seeking asylum in the 44 countries included in the report went up from 1,400 in 2013 to 15,700 in 2014.

While there has been a net overall increase in asylum applications, the number of new claims has not been spread evenly among the industrialized countries covered by the report. The top five receiving countries (Germany, the United States, Turkey, Sweden and Italy), for example, accounted for 60 per cent of all new asylum claims.

The report reveals other disparities, as when a country’s population size is taken into account, for example. Relative to the size of its population, Sweden is the country with the largest number of asylum seekers (24.4 asylum seekers per 1,000 inhabitants on average, during the last five years), followed by Malta, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Montenegro.” (UNHCR press release, 26 March 2015)

Click here to read the full report (PDF), and here for its statistical annex (ZIP).

Also see Eurostat’s release on asylum applications in the EU in 2014, which includes information on asylum decisions: Eurostat, 20 March 2015.

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