Mideast conflicts spike asylum-seekers by 45 pct
The number of asylum-seekers rose by 45 percent this year as devastating conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue to displace thousands of people, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday.
The spike is driven by the ongoing conflicts in war-ravaged countries, prompting people to seek asylum in industrialized states, with Germany being the top destination, AFP reported.
In 2014, some 866,000 people applied for asylum in such countries, marking a 45-percent jump from a year earlier and a 22-year high, the U.N. refugee agency said.
As a sign of the crisis, the number of asylum applications last year was the second highest on record, coming close to the all-time-high of the about 900,000 requests made in 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNHCR said.
Syria’s conflict, now in its fifth year, has killed more than 215,000 people and forced 11.4 million people to flee their homes, including nearly four million who have left the country.
Last year, 150,000 Syrians applied for asylum in industrialized countries, marking a 166-percent hike from 2013 and accounting for a fifth of all asylum claims, the UNHCR report said.
As the violence in Syria has spilled over into neighboring Iraq, with the ruthless Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, Iraqis too have been leaving in droves.
Last year they accounted for 68,700 asylum applications to wealthy nations – almost double the number a year earlier – while Afghans made up the third largest group, with almost 60,000 applications.