Although the UN refugee agency UNHCR recently reported a sharp rise in asylum claims in 44 industrialised countries last year, applications in Cyprus continue to fall.
UNHCR’s ‘Asylum Trends 2013’ report says 612,700 people applied for asylum in North America, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific last year – the highest total for any year since 2001. The increase was driven primarily by the crisis in Syria.
For 2013, the biggest increase in asylum applicants by region was in the 38 countries of Europe–including Cyprus–which together received 484,600 claims – an increase of a third from 2012.
Although also included in the UNHCR’s list 44 industrialised countries which showed a general sharp increase, Cyprus had 1,246 applications for asylum last year, the most recent in a series of markedly reduced numbers.
According to the UN report, the figure in 2009 stood at 3,200, in 2010 at 3,160, in 2011 at 1,770, and in 2012 at 1,630.
The top-10 populations of origin of asylum seekers by country of asylum for Cyprus were Syria with 562 applications, Egypt with 143, Bangladesh with 106 applications, Vietnam with 83, Pakistan with 54, Sri Lanka with 50 applications, Somalia with 43, India with 36, Philippines with 34, and Iran with 22 applications.
Also, eight applications were lodged by citizens of the Russian Federation, six by people from Afghanistan, six by people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, five from Iraqi and five from China.
Quarterly asylum applications lodged in Cyprus during the first quarter of 2013 numbered 317, and in the second quarter 238 showing a 25% decrease when compared to the first quarter. The third quarter saw 292 applications showing a 23% increase when compared to the second quarter and the fourth quarter included 399 applications for asylum showing a 37% increase when compared to the third quarter.
In January there were 98 asylum seekers, in February 138, in March 81, in April 74, in May 94 applications, in June 70, in July 71, in August 103, in September 118, in October 141, in November 143, and in December 115– totalling 1,246
The 28-member EU total for 2013 was 398,234. When adding the five non-EU Nordic countries (76,441) and eight non-EU countries in Southern Europe (89,543) the European total rose to 484,543.
The total for non-European countries including Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea among others was 128,182. This brings the total number of people seeking asylum in 2013 to 612,727.
According to the report, Germany was the largest single recipient with 109,600 new asylum claims. France (60,100) and Sweden (54,300) were also major receivers.
Turkey, currently the biggest refugee-hosting country in Europe due to the Syria crisis (a registered Syrian refugee population of 640,889) also saw 44,800 asylum claims lodged last year, mainly from nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Italy received 27,800 claims and Greece 8,200. Visit www.unhcr.org/5329b15a9.html to see the full report.