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REFUGEE RIGHTS

GLOBAL CONTEXTS Exploring Asylum and Refugee Numb Around the World By Katie O’Connell Global Contexts

while a significant proportion of applicants are officially classified as stateless (many of these identify as Palestinian), with many also originating from the Horn of Africa, namely Eritrea and Somalia. In 2013 Sweden received a total of 54,259 applications for asylum.

The global refugee population has recently hit fifty million, a figure that is often lost amid Australia’s internal debates around asylum seeker policies. Despite Australia receiving a comparatively small 24,324 applications for asylum in 2013, barely a day goes by without the issue making headlines around the country. Katie O’Connell explores the global context of asylum seeker and refugee numbers.

Turkey

Aside from Israel, Turkey is the only state bordering Syria that is a signatory to the Refugee Convention; in 2013, it received 44,807 applications for asylum. Turkey currently accommodates around 800,000 of the estimated three million refugees that have fled Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Turkey live in cities, with the remaining 20 per cent in camps.

USA

In 2013 the US received 88,358 applications for asylum. The majority of asylum seekers to the United States originate from China, with many claiming asylum on the grounds of political or religious persecution. Central America is also a significant producer of asylum seekers to the US, particularly from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. The Obama administration is considering allowing minors to apply for asylum in their own country, thereby avoiding the dangerous voyage north via land.

Italy

Italy received a total of 27,832 applications for asylum in 2013. In October 2013 over 360 people drowned off the island of Lampedusa after the boat they had travelled on from Libya sank of the coast of the island. In response to the tragedy the Italian government declared an official day of mourning throughout the country. In April this year the UNHCR reported that the Italian Navy had rescued around 6000 people off the coasts of Sicily and Calabria in just four days.

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Germany

Germany received the greatest number of requests for asylum in 2013, with 109,580 applications. Russians and Serbians make up the majority of claims for asylum in Germany, followed by Syrians. Germany has accepted the greatest number of Syrian refugees than any other EU country. Multiculturalism remains a divisive issue, with many Germans unhappy at European Union laws allowing new migrants to receive social welfare benefits; the German government is now considering legislation that would declare Serbia, Macedonia and BiH ‘safe countries of origin’, meaning that applications for asylum from these countries would be rejected. This could have a disproportionate impact on persecuted minorities such as Roma and Sinti.

THE GLOBAL REFUGEE POPULATION HAS RECENTLY HIT FIFTY MILLION

Lebanon

Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, however, according to the UNHCR it is currently estimated to be accommodating between one and 1.5 million people fleeing the crisis in Syria. The Lebanese government has allowed the Syrian refugees access to the country’s health and education systems. Lebanon also has a significant population of Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers. Pakistan

Sweden

Pakistan is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, however, it is commonly considered to accommodate the greatest number of refugees of any country in the world, with an estimated refugee population of 1.6 million, the majority of these of Afghani origin.

In September 2013, the Swedish government announced that all Syrians who applied for asylum in Sweden would be granted permanent residency, with full legal aid, work rights and family reunion rights, and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after five years. The majority of asylum seekers to Sweden are Syrian, 30

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The 3rd edition of AM-UNITY magazine is out now! Just click on the magazine cover on the left to view our latest edition - in it we explore...

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