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Asylum requests from Syria more than tripled in 2012


Switzerland had the sixth most asylum requests of any industrialised country in 2012 -the most since 1999 - and requests were up eight per cent in those countries, say the latest numbers from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

War-torn regions saw the highest number of asylum seekers, with Afghans filing the most requests. The number of asylum seekers from Syria more than tripled in 2012 to 24,800, placing it just behind Afghanistan; Syria was 11th on the list just one year ago. The number of Syrian asylum seekers grew dramatically beginning in September 2012, a trend that’s continuing, according to the UNHCR. So far, Sweden has taken in the most Syrian asylum seekers.

Requests in Switzerland jumped 33 per cent in the past year, bringing it to sixth on the list of host countries when it had been ninth in 2011, eighth in 2010 and 13th in 2009. In 2012, the Swiss saw the most asylum requests since 1999, when the war in Kosovo sent an influx of asylum seekers to Switzerland.

The UNHCR’s asylum numbers differ from those published by the Federal Migration Office because the migration office counts repeat applications whereas the UNHCR does not. The migration office recorded a 27 per cent increase in asylum requests in 2012.

According to the UNHCR, the US had the most asylum requests overall last year, with 83,400, followed by Germany and France.

The Swiss people will vote in June over a series of “emergency measures” implemented by parliament in autumn 2012 to speed up asylum decisions. Those measures include creating large centres to host asylum seekers’ needs under one roof and streamline the process, as well as housing unruly asylum seekers in special centres. In addition, the measures stipulate that asylum seekers may no longer apply for asylum at Swiss embassies abroad and that conscientious objectors and deserters no longer automatically qualify for asylum.

The numbers in brief

Total asylum requests lodged in 44 industrialised countries: 479,300

Top countries of origin for asylum seekers:

1. Afghanistan (36,600)

2. Syria (24,800)

3. Serbia/Kosovo (24,300)

4. China (24,100)

5. Pakistan (23,200)

6. Russia (20,500)

Top countries receiving asylum requests:

1. US (83,400)

2. Germany (64,500)

3. France (54,900)

4. Sweden (43,900)

5. United Kingdom (27,400)

6. Switzerland (25,900)

end of infobox and agencies

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