Number of asylum seekers in Europe and North America could reach 700,000 this year

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The number of people seeking refugee status in industrialized countries continued to climb in the first half of 2014, driven mainly by the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as conflict and instability in Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere.

The UN refugee Agency UNHCR says 330,700 people asked for refugee status in 44 countries in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia pacific an increase of 24 per cent from a year earlier.

UNHCR says the number of asylum seekers is likely to reach 700,000 by the end of the year which would be the highest total for industrialized countries in two decades.

Adrian Edwards is UNHCR's spokesperson in Geneva.

"The findings show clearly that more war equals more people needing asylum. Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and Eritreans are the four leading nationalities of people needing asylum. Clearly no country is immune to the human effect of such high level of conflict globally. The burden too is spread unevenly. Australia, Poland and Hungary all saw fewer people asking for asylum. Meanwhile more than two thirds of the asylum requests were seen in just 6 countries, Germany, the United States, France, Sweden, Turkey and Italy. The report speaks of the strains on the global humanitarian system and the need for more emphasis to be placed on finding solutions to conflicts and preventing conflicts."

Worldwide, UNHCR says 51.2 million were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2013 with most of them either internally displaced within their own countries, or are hosted as refugees in states bordering war zones.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.43″

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