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Fewer Nigerians seek asylum –UN agency

Posted by by Adeniyi Adesina on 2005/03/02 | Views: 513 |

Fewer Nigerians seek asylum –UN agency

THE number of Nigerians seeking asylum in Europe and the United States has dropped significantly.

THE number of Nigerians seeking asylum in Europe and the United States has dropped significantly.

Also, the number of asylum seekers from the developing countries arriving in the industrialised countries of the world has dropped considerably.

The 2004 figure of 368,000 was the lowest in 16 years. It fell sharply in the last three years, according to the figures released by the United Nations Refugee Agency on Tuesday.

UNHCR statistics showed that Nigeria had 13,542 asylum applications in 2003. This dropped to 11,923 in 2004.

In 2003, Nigeria ranked sixth in the overall list of asylum-seeking countries, but dropped to the ninth position in 2004.

But citizens of Russia, China and Serbia/Mont-enegro, in that order, were the top three asylum seekers. Most of the asylum seekers from Russia were Chechens, while people from Kosovo topped the list from Serbia.

Only five of the 40 top asylum-seeking nations registered a rise in applications in 2004. One of them is Haiti, whose applications rose by nine per cent, apparently because of the political turmoil which led to the abdication from office of Reverend Bertrand Aristide.

Georgia had four per cent increase; and Azerbaijan, three per cent. The rest are Algeria, two per cent and Moldova, one per cent.

"This really should reduce the pressure by politicians, media and the public to make asylum systems more restrictive to the point where many genuine refugees have enormous difficulty getting access to Europe, or getting recognized once they are there," said Raymond Hall, Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau.

He added, "In most industrialised countries, it should simply not be possible to claim there is a huge asylum crisis any more."

The United States, United Kingdom and Germany, according the UNHCR, receive 40 per cent of asylum seekers between 2000 and 2004.

The US took in 411,700 during the period; while the UK took 393, 800 and Germany 324,200. France took 279,200; Canada (175, 200), Austria (144, 800), Sweden (127,400), Belgium (118,400), The Netherlands (118,300) and Switzerland (99,400).

Most asylum seekers originate from Asia. According to the UNHCR, 40 per cent of asylum seekers in Europe originate from Asia, while Africa and Europe each accounted for 27 per cent. Only a negligible two percent originated from America and the Caribbean.

The PUNCH, Wednesday, March 2, 2005

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