[JURIST] France has replaced the US as the industrialized nation receiving the most asylum applications from refugees, though overall numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe and North America have reached their lowest levels since 1988, according to report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [official website] released Tuesday. According the UNHCR report, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, 2004 [PDF text; UNHCR press release], France received the most asylum seekers at 61,600, followed by the US, Britain, Germany and Canada. The number of asylum claims in industrialized countries fell by 22 percent last year, and for most individual countries the number of total claims are the lowest in many years. Raymond Hall, Director of UNHCR's Europe Bureau, said "This really should reduce the pressure by politicians, media and the public to make asylum systems more and more restrictive to the point where many genuine refugees have enormous difficulty getting access to Europe, or getting recognized once they are there. In most industrialized countries it should simply not be possible to claim there is a huge asylum crisis any more." AP has more.