Asylum levels and trends 2011

Parliament house flag post

Asylum levels and trends 2011

Posted 2/04/2012 by Janet Phillips

On 27 March 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released the 2011 report on Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries. After analysing asylum application trends in the 44 industrialised countries included in the report (38 European countries plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Canada and the USA), the UNHCR found that an estimated 441 300 asylum applications were lodged in 2011—the highest level since 2003. In a press release accompanying the report, the UNHCR noted that ‘rising outflow from older crisis spots such as Afghanistan’ helped contribute to the 20 per cent rise in asylum claims in 2011.

Bucking the global trend, Australia experienced a 9 per cent decrease in asylum applications in 2011—the first decrease in six years. This is a reverse of the situation in 2010 when much of Europe experienced a decline in applications while Australia experienced a 33 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

So how significant are these fluctuations and how useful is it to compare asylum trends between Australia and other receiving countries?

What influences asylum trends?

There are a number of factors that should be taken into account when comparing trends in application lodgements, including increased conflict (‘push factors’) in source countries and asylum policies in receiving countries (perceived by some to be potential ‘pull factors’). The 2011 UNHCR report discussed some of the complexities:

The numbers of people requesting international protection have fluctuated significantly between countries and years, largely depending on political developments in countries of origin or changes in asylum polices in receiving countries. However, other factors may also be of relevance, including the existence of social networks of certain communities in destination countries, improved capacity to register asylum seekers, and the fact that some countries are perceived as being more likely to grant refugee status than others.
Such factors, together with increasingly tougher border protection policies, can markedly affect the share and rankings of receiving countries year by year. For example, Southern Europe (in particular along the coasts of Italy, Malta and Spain) is where the bulk of Europe’s unauthorised boat arrivals (many of whom are asylum seekers) traditionally occur. According to the UNHCR, people on board boats arriving in Italy usually make up about 70 per cent of Italy's asylum applicants. In 2009, Italy and Libya concluded an agreement to turn boats back to Libya and asylum applications lodged by boat arrivals subsequently plummeted. However, following the ‘Arab Spring’ in North Africa in early 2011 this arrangement collapsed. The collapse of the turn back agreement, combined with the increased unrest across North Africa, led to a large-scale resumption of boat arrivals in Italy, resulting in triple the number of asylum applications in 2011. As a result, Italy moved back up the UNHCR’s rankings to become the fourth highest destination country in 2011.

Application trends are also affected by the distribution of asylum claims from certain regions as some destination countries receive more applications from particular source countries than others. For example, the UNHCR report shows that France experienced an increase in applications from asylum seekers from Armenia, the Russian Federation and Cote d’Ivoire in 2011, while Germany’s increases were largely attributable to a growth in applications from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan (three out of ten applications were lodged by Afghans).

So, when comparing asylum trends across Europe, in-country variables such as these should be taken into account before attempting to draw any conclusions.

Asylum trends in Australia

Although there was a decline in applications in Australia in 2011, largely due to a reduction in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat, in 2010 the reverse was true. It is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions based on these year to year fluctuations and it is probably more informative to look at long-term data. Researchers and other stakeholders such as John Menadue argue that Australia’s asylum trends have roughly mirrored world trends for over a decade. Certainly the bulk of Australia's boat arrivals since 2001 have consisted primarily of people from the conflict zones of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq and asylum seekers from these regions have featured prominently in driving asylum trends in most receiving countries, not just Australia, for many years.

It is important to note that the UNHCR’s asylum trends data demonstrates only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. Most do not make their way to industrialised countries to seek protection. In fact the vast majority of asylum seekers and refugees are hosted in developing countries (usually in close proximity to the conflict zones), so the burden of assisting the world’s asylum seekers and refugees actually falls to some of the world’s poorest countries. UNHCR data shows that Pakistan is host to the largest number of refugees worldwide—mostly from Afghanistan.

In comparison, the contribution by industrialised countries is small regardless of the fluctuations in the data each year—and Australia’s contribution is just a fraction of this. As the UNHCR Regional Office pointed out last week:

This report shows clearly that the numbers of asylum seekers coming to Australia are modest - and certainly manageable - when compared to many other countries.


Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament


Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Archive

Syndication

Tagcloud

refugees asylum immigration Parliament climate change elections social security health financing Australian Defence Force women taxation welfare policy Australian foreign policy welfare reform sport Medicare employment illicit drugs gambling higher education disability Middle East Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency Australian Bureau of Statistics health reform emissions trading industrial relations united states statistics private health insurance Carbon Pricing Mechanism United Nations school education indigenous Australians aid steroids WADA federal budget politics labour force Australian Federal Police transport detention criminal law ASADA Afghanistan governance poker machines income management people trafficking Fair Work Act 43rd Parliament Australian Public Service International Women's Day Australian Crime Commission Papua New Guinea parliamentary procedure National Disability Insurance Scheme children's health food OECD debt defence capability federal election 2013 Australian Electoral Commission aged care environment election results Senate pensions law enforcement UK Parliament pharmaceutical benefits scheme planning skilled migration multiculturalism people smuggling doping child protection HECS Higher Education Loan Program paid parental leave High Court international relations corruption federal state relations Asia Australia in the Asian Century dental health New Zealand ALP political parties constitution public service reform forced labour aviation coal seam gas crime customs social media ADRV Census Newstart Parenting Payment health employee employer Federal Court foreign debt gross debt net debt European Union domestic violence Constitutional reform food labelling carbon tax banking terrorist groups United Kingdom leadership public policy terrorism welfare Australian Security Intelligence Organisation intelligence community Drugs research and development voting mental health health system human rights Northern Territory Emergency Response science Electoral reform regional unemployment productivity accountability military history Indigenous Indonesia Pacific Islands speaker superannuation middle class welfare welfare systems question time animal health Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry trade unions integrity same sex relationships foreign bribery Australian Secret Intelligence Service firearms export liquefied natural gas local government referendum children Australian economy mining forestry Tasmania financial sector Canada United Nations Security Council climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expertise Senators and Members family assistance by-election US economy housing affordability ASIO new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC reserved seats regulation Parliamentary remuneration Population Hung Parliament federal budget 2011-12 paternalism public health slavery Trafficking in Persons Report homelessness school chaplains ministries water federal election 2010 Medicare Locals primary care regional students Youth Allowance entitlements salary sea farers violence against women Special Rapporteur transparency money laundering early childhood education asylum seekers national security bulk billing China disability employment World Trade Organization Australia renewable energy language education Italy roads international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies standard of proof arts health risks World Health Organisation disciplinary tribunals railways infant mortality honorary citizen suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports contracts workplace policies peace keeping disorderly conduct same-sex marriage Parliament House retirement Rent Assistance constitutional recognition of local government anti-dumping national heritage NHMRC nutrition GDP world heritage submarines Somalia defence budget First speech election timetable sitting days prime ministers standing orders public housing cancer gene patents genetic testing carbon markets universities Ireland public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission vocational education and training limitation period Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping leave loading political engagement Korean peninsula counselling pests suicide social policy alcohol computer games plebiscites therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration federalism federation preselection Iran sanctions baby bonus early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin citizen engagement policymaking biosecurity hendra environmental law COAG Ministerial Councils nuclear Work Choices republic hospitals qantas ANZUS Norway President Barack Obama Presidential visits advertising electricity energy maritime floods ADHD stimulant medication 44th Parliament 2015 e-voting internet voting nsw state elections Indigenous health procurement citizenship Defence ACT Norfolk Island External Territories High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title Indigenous education ABS Trade Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum ACT Assembly Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 sexual abuse online grooming sexual assault of minors social services EU fishing asylum refugees immigration political finance donations Antarctica Diplomacy Disability Support Pension by-elections state and territories China soft power education Fiji India fuel Scottish referendum Members of Parliament Middle East; national security; terrorism Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy innovation Bills NATO workers anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform standards copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry Governor-General Animal law; food health policy employment law bullying Economics efficiency foreign aid human rights; Racial Discrimination Act smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Work Health and Safety Asia; Japan; international relations youth Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine political financing US politics Australia Greens Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce terrorist financing Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling Stronger futures rural and regional political parties preselection presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act Australian Greens

Show all
Show less
Back to top