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UNHCR: Iraqis still at the top of the asylum seeker table, despite drop

First, here’s the SOFA draft. (Warning: PDF!)

The Real News video points out that most of the returning Iraqi refugees are returning because their savings have been depleted and no jobs can be found to support themselves in Syria…

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) recently released their latest report (PDF!) on asylum levels and trends. Once again Iraqis are the top asylum seekers to the industrialized nations! From the UNHCR press release…

According to the asylum trends report, the number of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 2008, was higher than the combined number of asylum claims submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China (8,700), the second and third most important source countries. Other important countries of origin of asylum seekers were Somalia (7,400), Pakistan and Afghanistan (6,300 each).

Compared to the previous six months, however, the number of Iraqi asylum seekers fell by 18 percent and by 10 percent compared to the first half of 2007. In spite of this downward trend, Iraqis still accounted for 12 percent of all asylum applications lodged in the industrialized world.

It is extremely disturbing that Iraqis comprise the largest segment of asylum seekers by far, however, at least it seems to be trending downwards. Where are they going within the industrialized nations…?

Sixty percent of all Iraqis claimed asylum in only four countries: Sweden (20 percent), Germany (18 percent), Turkey (14 percent) and the Netherlands (12 percent). One in five of all applications by Iraqis were submitted in Sweden (3,900), which has been the main destination country for Iraqi asylum seekers for some time.

Arrivals in Sweden, however, have seen a recent drop following a change in Swedish decision-making on Iraqi asylum claims, which has resulted in fewer Iraqis submitting applications. At the same time, applications by Iraqis have gone up in Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. Germany, for example, received 3,400 Iraqi asylum claims in the first half of 2008, the same level as in the preceding six months, but four times more than in the first half of 2007.

Notice that Sweden, Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands are taking in thousands of Iraqis each reporting period. Now…

The United States remained the largest single recipient of new claims by asylum seekers of all nationalities during the first six months of 2008. An estimated 25,400 individuals submitted asylum applications in the US, representing 15 percent of all applications lodged in the 44 industrialized countries covered by the report.

Canada ranked second country of destination with 16,800 applications by asylum seekers of all nationalities during the first six months of 2008, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Isn’t it funny that we’re the largest recipient of asylum seekers, but, not from Iraq! Within the reporting period from 2006, 2007, and half of ’08; a grand total of 2,344 Iraqi applications were recorded(734, 1029, and 581 respectively)! Within the Nordic region of the EU alone, a total of 5,646 Iraqis were recorded within just the first half of 2008… 3,433 in the first quarter! In 3 mos time they’ve dwarfed our grand total! What is wrong with that picture?

Let’s not even consider all the IDP’s and the flood of refugees to neighboring Jordan, Syria, et al…

Apart from asylum seekers, UN figures estimate the number of displaced Iraqis inside the country at 2 million and another 2 million in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria which hosts 1.2 million Iraqis and Jordan, 750,000 Iraqis.

This is a travesty! We caused this whole mess! God help us all…

(cross-posted at Main & Central)

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