The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] released a report [text, PDF] on Friday detailing the asylum trends in industrialized countries in 2013. The report shows a notable increase in asylum claims across industrialized countries compared to recent years. Unlike in recent years, however, where Afghanistan has been the most common country of origin, Syria was the top asylum originator for 2013. The report suggests that this is a clear shift in conflict zones creating refugees. Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan are all in the top ten of refugee origination in addition to Syria, and all experience some type of internal conflict. These conflict areas create an increase in acceptance rates of refugees, as those from conflict zones have a 62 to 95 percent chance of acceptance, while political refugees from Russia and Serbia, also in the top ten, have an acceptance rate of 5 to 28 percent. There were a total of 612,700 new asylum applications in 2013, which was the most since 2001.
Immigration continues to be a prevalent international issue. Earlier in March Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] detailing the Cyprus government's international law violations by detaining refugees on an island before addressing their claims. In February the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] called upon [JURIST report] Australia to change the way in which it handled asylum claims. Also in February, an Australian human rights agency launched [JURIST report] an inquiry into how the government was treating immigrants. In January Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Thailand to screen detained persons for refugee status and the mandate to protect refugees and stateless people.