E.g., 06/25/2024
E.g., 06/25/2024
Asylum Applications Drop Sharply

Asylum Applications Drop Sharply

In the 1990s, rising numbers of asylum applications from the Balkans grabbed the attention of politicians and citizens across Europe. As a result, individual countries made it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum, and the European Union has harmonized the asylum process so Member States can better determine responsibility for asylum applicants.

This year, however, the asylum story was about a decrease in first-time applications — a 22 percent drop between 2003 and 2004, according to a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report in March 2005. The cumulative fall since 2001 amounts to 40 percent.

In some countries, the decline since 2000 was particularly sharp: 87 percent in Slovenia, 78 percent in the Netherlands, 76 percent in Australia, 74 percent in Denmark, 63 percent in New Zealand, and 59 percent in the United Kingdom.

Issue No. 9 of Top Ten of 2005

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The trend was not limited to Europe. Between 2003 and 2004, the United States and Canada recorded a 26 percent decrease, and Australia and New Zealand a 28 percent drop.

The reasons for the decline include new restrictive policies in Switzerland, Denmark, and the UK designed to discourage asylum applicants, as well as interception-at-sea tactics of the United States, Australia, and Italy (see Issue #7).

On a more positive note, the pool of people needing protection has shrunk. Refugees and internally displaced people in Africa and Asia — including Afghanistan, Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — have been able to return home.

For more information, please see the following articles:

Data Tool:

Analyzing Asylum Applications


Drop in Asylum Numbers Shows Changes in Demand and Supply

EU Sees Sharp Drop in Asylum Applications

Troubled Waters: Rescue of Asylum Seekers and Refugees at Sea

The U.S. Refugee Program in Transition

Reconstructing Afghanistan: Lessons for Post-War Iraq?

Country Profiles:

Switzerland Faces Common European Challenges

United Kingdom: Rising Numbers, Rising Anxieties

Austria: A Country of Immigration?

Colombia: In the Crossfire

Georgia Looks West, But Faces Migration Challenges at Home

Jordan: A Refugee Haven

In the News:

Austria Adopts More Restrictive Asylum Law

Options Dwindle for Asylum Seekers in France


Spotlight on Refugees and Asylees in the United States