Asylum applications in Europe increase by third

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displaced Syrian family

The number of asylum application made in western industrialized states rose by a third in 2013.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said the increase was driven mainly by the growing number of Syrians leaving their country to escape war and violence.

Almost 613,000 people applied for asylum in North America, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific last year the highest total for any year since 2001.

The highest number of applications were made by asylum seekers from Syria, The Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea and China.

UNHCR says the number of asylum application accepted varies widely and tend to be higher among people fleeing conflict.

Volker Turk is the Director of UNHCR's Division of International protection.

"The acceptance rates, meaning those who actually are either actually recognized as refugees or are able to obtain an international protection status, for Syrians, Eritreans, Iraqis, Somalis and Afghans are fairly high. It is ranging from 62 per cent to 95 per cent especially in the case of Syrians. We see the acceptance rate for nationals from the Russian federation or China at significantly lower levels. Obviously, there the dynamics is a different one. It is not so much a dynamic of refugee movement or forced displacement, it's probably more a dynamic of migration. In order to qualify for refugee status, definition in the 1951 refugee convention is that you have to have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of political opinion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, race or religion."

Of the 44 industrialized countries surveyed, Germany was the largest recipient with 109,600 new asylum claims followed by The United States 88,400, France 60,100 and Sweden 54,300.

UNHCR is calling for more countries to accept asylum seekers especially those deemed to be most vulnerable.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2.18″

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