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TOP 10 MIGRATION ISSUES OF 2005
Issue #9: Asylum Applications Drop Sharply
Afghan refugees walk across the border into Pakistan in October 2001. The number of asylum applications from Afghanistan hit 54,430 that year according to UNHCR, but dropped 83 percent to 8,802 applications in 2004.
In the 1990s, rising numbers of asylum applications from the Balkans grabbed
the attention of politicians and citizens across Europe. As a result, individual
countries made it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum, and the European
Union has harmonized the asylum process so Member States can better determine
responsibility for asylum applicants.
This year, however, the asylum story was about a decrease in first-time applications — a
22 percent drop between 2003 and 2004, according to a UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) report in March 2005. The cumulative fall since 2001 amounts to
In some countries, the decline since 2000 was particularly sharp: 87 percent
in Slovenia, 78 percent in the Netherlands, 76 percent in Australia, 74 percent
in Denmark, 63 percent in New Zealand, and 59 percent in the United Kingdom.
The trend was not limited to Europe. Between 2003 and 2004, the United States
and Canada recorded a 26 percent decrease, and Australia and New Zealand a
28 percent drop.
The reasons for the decline include new restrictive policies in Switzerland,
Denmark, and the UK designed to discourage asylum applicants, as well as
interception-at-sea tactics of the United States, Australia, and Italy (see
On a more positive note, the pool of people needing protection has shrunk.
Refugees and internally displaced people in Africa and Asia — including
Afghanistan, Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — have been able to return
For more information, please see the following articles:
• Analyzing Asylum Applications
• Drop in Asylum Numbers Shows Changes in Demand and Supply
• EU Sees Sharp Drop in Asylum Applications
• Troubled Waters: Rescue of Asylum Seekers and Refugees at Sea
• The US Refugee Program in Transition
• Reconstructing Afghanistan: Lessons for Post-War Iraq?
• Switzerland Faces Common European Challenges
• United Kingdom: Rising Numbers, Rising Anxieties
• Austria: A Country of Immigration?
• Colombia: In the Crossfire
• Georgia Looks West, But Faces Migration Challenges at Home
• Jordan: A Refugee Haven
In the News:
• Austria Adopts More Restrictive Asylum Law
• Options Dwindle for Asylum Seekers in France
• Spotlight on Refugees and Asylees in the United States
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