Highest numbers of asylums seekers in 22 years registered in 2014

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Displaced women in South Sudan. Estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000. Photo: UNHCR/Helen Caux

The number of people who fled conflicts and other hardships to apply for asylum in industrialized countries was at a 22-year high last year, according to a report released by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Thursday.

The UNHCR's Asylum Trends 2014 puts the estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000.

It is based on data received from 44 governments in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

The UN refugee agency says that the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as armed conflicts, human rights violations and worsening security and humanitarian conditions have forced more people to apply for asylum in industrialized countries.

UNHCR says there was a 45 per cent increase in the number of asylum applications in 2014 compared to the previous year.

It is the highest number since 1992, when the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina erupted following the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers created by the Balkan wars found refuge in industrialized countries.

Melissa Fleming is Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"He is calling on countries who are now witnessing growing numbers of people arriving, particularly from Syria, from Iraq, from Afghanistan to show the same kind of generosity towards these people as they did back then. This is not unprecedented. Europe knows how to be generous. Europe knows how to help people in need." (22")

The UNHCR report also shows that Syrians were by far the largest group among those seeking asylum in 2014, with almost 150,000 applications.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

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