Iraq: Asylum levels and trends in industrialized countries, first half 2008

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I. Introduction

This report summarizes the main levels and developments in the number of individual asylum claims submitted in Europe and selected non-European countries during the first six months of 2008. It covers the 38 European and 6 non-European States that currently provide monthly asylum statistics to UNHCR. The numbers in this report reflect applications made at the first instance of asylum procedures. Applications at appeal instance are not included. This report does not include information on the outcome of asylum claims or on the admission of refugees through resettlement programmes, which is available in other UNHCR reports.

The group of countries included in this report is collectively referred to as the "44 industrialized countries" and has been defined for the purpose of this report only. The 44 countries are: 27 Member States of the European Union and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

UNHCR's data collection of monthly asylum statistics has expanded in the course of 2007 with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia3, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia being included. In view of the introduction of improved statistical reporting systems, Italy has been added in 2008, making it the 44th country to participate in UNHCR's asylum data monitoring system. In order to ensure comparability over time, UNHCR's database has been updated retroactively by incorporating monthly asylum statistics for the first six new countries since at least 2005. Monthly data for Italy, however, is available only from 2008. As a result of this expansion, previous UNHCR reports analysing monthly asylum trends may differ from the current one in terms of scope and data availability, and are thus not necessarily comparable.

To the extent possible, the statistics presented in this document reflect the number of asylumseekers lodging an application for the first time. However, it appears that a significant number of countries included in this report cannot distinguish new asylum applications from reopened or repeat claims in their statistical systems. As a consequence, some of the numbers reported to UNHCR are likely to include repeat applications, and therefore do not necessarily reflect the actual number of new asylum-seekers. Moreover, although asylum-seekers are counted only once in each country, the regional numbers are proportionately higher because some individuals seek asylum in more than one country.

The data in this report is based on information available as at 9 October 2008, unless otherwise indicated. All figures based on monthly statistics should be considered as provisional and subject to change. Due to retroactive changes and adjustments, some of the data included in this publication may differ slightly from those reported in previous UNHCR documents, or from the official annual figures published by States. This is the case, for instance, for Germany (see the notes in Table 1 for more information).

All of the data in this document refer to the number of individuals, with the exception of the United States of America and Belgium. Only the number of cases (which can include several individuals) is available for applications submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). UNHCR has therefore multiplied the total number of asylum cases by a factor of 1.4 to estimate the number of individuals, as historical data suggest that, on average, one case equals 1.4 individuals. Applications submitted to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), however, are recorded as individuals. Owing to the large variation in family size by nationality, the analysis by country of origin in the United States of America is based on a combination of the number of cases (DHS) and the number of individuals (EOIR). In the case of Belgium, accompanying dependents are not included in the figures.