Human Rights, Migrants, Multiculture, Politiks

Asylum seekers: escaping from war and persecutions

The United States, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the main destinations for a growing number of people coming from Asia and North Africa. The United Nations Refugee Agency reports a 17 percent increase in claims.


Emanuela Muzzi


More and more people are in need of help, protection, home and a new country. This is a direct result of war and authoritarian regimes affecting many areas of the globe.

According to the most recent figures issued by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, the number of people asking for asylum in the top 44 industrialized countries rose by 17% during the first semester of 2011.

The majority of asylum seekers come from war zones: Afghanistan is the first country in line with 15,300 asylum claims and it is the most significant source country of people in need for a new place to live and escape daily war and violence; the latest horrible news from the war is the bomb blast in Kabul last Saturday which killed 13 foreign soldiers and four Afghans, one of the worst ground attacks against foreign troops since the beginning of the war.

But regimes count as much victims as wars: asylum seekers from China this year are until now 11,700: with this growing number China is the second country in the world for people trying to escape legally as refugees.

The figure has to be added to the 8.3 million China-born people living outside its borders in 2010 that make China the fourth largest country of emigration in the world (according to the World Bank).

Serbia and Kosovo with 10,300 are third in line followed by Iraq with 10,100 asylum claims, and Iran 7,600. People from these five countries together accounted for 55 thousand applications, or almost one third (29%) of all asylum claims.

The claims we are talking about haven’t been approved or won, but figures raise concerns about increases in human rights violations in non democratic systems such as China and Iran and non-recovering post war conditions such as in Iraq and ex Yugoslavian regions.

According to the UN agency report “Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries from January 1st to June 30 2011”, 198.300 claims have been made (29.300 more than in the same period of 2010 when 169,300 claims were made).

All these people are seeking international protection and claim for refugee status to escape persecution and conditions of extreme poverty caused by illiberal regimes and war.

These are the results of bloody repression of revolts in Iran, unstable situation in the ex Yugoslavian regions, repression of human rights and poverty in many regions of China where human and civil rights are repeatedly violated.

But where have all these people gone? In which countries do they think and hope they will finally find security, peace, prosperity and human rights respected? The first five destinations are US, France, Germany, Sweden and UK (followed in line by Belgium, Canada, and Italy).

In the United Kingdom in particular the number of asylum applications increased by 12 per cent during the first half of 2011 reaching the 12.200 claims. This made it the fifth largest recipient country in the report.

Part of the increase was attributed to larger numbers of asylum-seekers from Pakistan, up from about 1,000 claims in the first semester of 2010 to close to 1,700 during the same period of this year.

Pakistan in particular is in a serious political phase where internal stability is undermined by hidden movement supporting the Taliban: since 2001 sectarian and fundamentalist internal fights has caused at least 35 thousand victims, more than open war in nearby Afghanistan. War and asylum seekers are also linked to the Libyan crisis, as after the revolt and civil war, claims in the UK increased from a total of 100 claims in 2010 to more than 700.

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