Global asylum claims halve over past decade

Nearly 1,000 fewer people lodged asylum claims in Switzerland in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

This content was published on March 28, 2011 - 09:06 and agencies

Releasing its annual report on asylum seeker trends, the UNHCR said total asylum applications lodged in 44 industrialised countries in 2010 were down by nearly half from 2001 figures.

A total of 358,800 asylum applications were lodged in 2010 compared with 620,000 applications in 2001, a reduction of 42 per cent.

Switzerland registered 13,500 asylum claims in 2010, a reduction of 970 compared with claims registered in 2009.

The United States, France, Germany, Sweden and Canada were the top five asylum receiving countries in 2010. Switzerland jumped five positions from 2009 to 2010 to eighth place on the table of top receiving countries. 

Claims registered in Europe dropped 33 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009 due mainly to fewer requests for asylum in Italy, Malta and Greece, the UNHCR said.

The UNHCR said further examination of the figures was needed to determine if the decline was due to fewer push factors in areas of origin or tighter migration controls in receiving countries.

The 2009 agreement between Italy and Libya to turn back boats carrying asylum seekers had had a significant impact on reducing claims, the UNHCR said. The number of asylum applications to Italy dropped to 8,200 in 2010 from 30,300 in 2008.

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