A person becomes an asylum seeker by making a formal application for the right to remain in another country and keeps that status until the application has been concluded. The applicant becomes an "asylee" if their claim is accepted and asylum is granted. The relevant immigration authorities of the country of asylum determine whether the asylum seeker will be granted protection and become an officially recognised refugee (asylee) or whether asylum will be refused and asylum seeker becomes an illegal immigrant.
Major recipient countries of new asylum applications, 2017-2018
UNITED STATES - 254,300 asylum applications
As in 2017, the United States of America continued to be the largest recipient of new asylum applications, with 254,300 registered during 2018 while this was a decrease compared with 2017 (331,700), it was similar to 2016 (262,000). As in previous years, el Salvador was the most common nationality of origin of applicants for asylum during 2018 with 33,400 claims, a decrease on the 49,500 submitted in 2017 and about the same as 2016 (33,600). Also, as in 2017, Guatemalans were the next largest group with 33,100 new applications. Venezuelans became the third most common nationality of applicants for asylum during 2018 with 27,500 applications, reflecting the continued deterioration of conditions in the country. This was followed by applicants from Honduras with 24,400 applications and Mexicans (20,000). As in previous years, applicants from Central America and Mexico made up about half of all applications (54 per cent). Other countries from which there were significant applicants for asylum in 2018 included India (9,400) and China (9,400). Overall, claims were received from applicants from 166 countries or territories.
PERU - 192,500 asylum applications
As a result of the crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the number of asylum applications increased sharply in Peru, which became the second largest recipient of asylum applications globally with 192,500. nearly all such claims were submitted by Venezuelans (190,500). in 2017, by contrast, Peru received 37,800 asylum claims and 4,400 in 2016
GERMANY - 161,900 asylum applications
Germany continued to experience a decline in the number of new asylum applications received with 161,900 and became the third largest recipient of new asylum claims. This compared with 198,300 in 2017, as well as the peak of 722,400 in 2016. As in previous years, Syrians made up the largest number of asylum claims with 44,200 although this declined to 27 per cent as a proportion of all claims. Also, as in 2017, Iraqis were the second most common nationality of origin with 16,300 claims in 2018, although this constituted a decline from the 21,900 in 2017. The number of applications from Iranians increased in 2018 to 10,900 to become the third most common nationality. Of note is the decrease in applications from Afghans: while there were 127,000 such applications in 2016, there were only 9,900 in 2018. Other nationalities with significant numbers of new asylum-seekers in Germany were Nigeria (10,200), Turkey (10,200), Eritrea (5,600) and Somalia (5,100)
FRANCE - 114,500 asylum applications
The fourth largest recipient of new asylum claims in 2018 was France with 114,500 registered, a 23 per cent increase on 2017. Unlike previous years, applicants from Afghanistan were the most common with 10,300 new applications, compared with 6,600 in 2017. Albanians were the next most common nationality with 8,300 claims, followed by Georgia (6,800), Guinea (6,700), Côte d’Ivoire (5,300) and Syria (5,000).
TURKEY - 83,800 asylum applications
Turkey continued to receive individual asylum claims from nationalities other than Syrians who receive protection under the Government’s Temporary Protection Regulation. Turkey thus became the fifth largest recipient of new asylum claims with 83,800 submitted in 2018. (These figures pertain to claims submitted to UNHCR as of 10th September 2018, after which UNHCR Turkey phased out its role in registering foreigners wishing to apply for international protection and the Government of Turkey moved to a fully decentralized procedure for all persons seeking international protection.) Afghan asylum-seekers continued to submit the most claims in 2018 with 53,000, compared with 67,400 in 2017. Similarly, asylum claims from Iraqis remained the second most common and declined from 44,500 in 2017 to 20,000 in 2018. There were also 6,400 claims from Iranians. These three countries accounted for nearly all newly received individual asylum claims in Turkey (95 per cent).
BRAZIL - 80,000 asylum applications
Brazil received 80,000 applications in 2018 to become the sixth largest recipient of asylum claims, a rise from 33,800 in 2017 and 10,300 in 2016. Like Peru, Brazil also witnessed a steep increase in asylum applications from Venezuelans, who accounted for more than three quarters of such claims in 2018 (61,600). There were also 7,000 applicants from Haitians.
GREECE - 65,000 asylum applications
Greece saw a continuation of the trend of increasing new individual asylum claims from 57,000 in 2017 to 65,000 in 2018 (compared with 11,400 in 2015). As in previous years, the most common nationality of origin was Syrian (13,200), although this constituted a decrease from the 16,300 submitted in 2017, and thus represented a decreasing proportion of claims. in contrast, there were increases in claims submitted by Afghans (11,800 in 2018 and 7,500 in 2017) and Iraqis (9,600 in 2018 and 7,900 in 2017), the second and third most common nationalities of origin, respectively.
SPAIN - 55,700 asylum applications
During 2018, Spain received 55,700 new asylum claims, the eighth largest number globally and again a significant rise from 31,700 in 2017. The number of applications from Venezuelans, the most common nationality of origin, nearly doubled from 10,600 in 2017 to 20,000 in 2018. This was followed by Colombian applicants who also saw an increase from 2,500 in 2017 to 8,800 in 2018.
CANADA - 55,400 asylum applications
Canada was the ninth largest recipient of new asylum claims with 55,400 registered in 2018, a small increase on the claims registered in 2017 (47,000). nationals of Nigeria submitted the largest number (9,600).
ITALY - 48,900 asylum applications
The number of new asylum applications in Italy more than halved to 48,900 in 2018, making it the tenth largest recipient of asylum claims. Pakistanis submitted the most applications with 7,300, followed by Nigerians with 5,100 new applications (compared with the 25,100 in 2017).
New asylum claims registered in UNHCR offices with more than 10,000 claims (2014-2018)
Other countries receiving large numbers of new asylum claims were:
- United Kingdom - 37,500 asylum applications
- Mexico - 29,600 asylum applications
- Australia - 28,800 asylum applications
- Costa Rica - 28,000 asylum applications
- Malaysia - 23,800 asylum applications
- Egypt - 23,000 asylum applications
- the Netherlands - 20,500 asylum applications
Among countries where refugee status determination is carried out by UNHCR, the office in Turkey continued to receive the most claims with 83,800. As noted, these claims were recorded only until 10 September 2018, when the Government of Turkey assumed responsibility for all applications. The UNHCR office in Malaysia received the next highest number of new applications with 23,800, followed by Egypt (23,000),75 Libya (16,300) and Jordan (10,400).
SOURCES: UNHCR, IOM
IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons / Leonardo Perez Aranda [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]