Thursday, March 03, 2005

The World of Refugees

The latest annual report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees makes for interesting reading.

While in the past there were large refugee flows to the industrialized countries from Afghanistan and Iraq, these have declined dramatically in recent years.

The number of asylum seekers from Afghanistan has declined by 83 % since 2001 and the number from Iraq by 80 % since 2002. Something good seems to have happened in these countries...

For the second year in a row, the largest number of asylum seekers are now coming from Russia. One has to assume that this to a large extent is connected with the conflict in Chechnya, but the statistics isn't so differentiated that it actually says so.

The second largest number of asylum seekers are coming from Serbia-Montenegro. I would consider it more than likely that this to a large extent consist of people from the minority communities in Kosovo in view of the insecurity they are feeling there.

Although we are thus in one of the periods when the number of asylum seekers is declining - it was a 19 % drop for the EU countries - we have no right to be complacent, and should instead see the figures on where these people are coming from as an indication on where we need to concentrate our efforts to seek resolution to different conflicts.