Dramatic fall in asylum numbers
The number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries has dropped to the lowest level in 17 years, according to statistics released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The total number of claims in 30 selected industrialized countries during the first six months of 2004 is 22 per cent lower than during the first half of 2003. For the 20 European Union countries included in the report, the drop was 16 per cent compared to the same six-month period last year. France, the US, the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria were the top five countries of asylum over the research period. Russians – most of whom are believed to be Chechens – were the top asylum seekers, followed by Serbia and Montenegro, China, Turkey and India.