2nd April, 2012
Some 10,500 Nigerians sought asylum last year in industrialised countries compared to 9,500 in 2010, according to a report released by the UN refugee agency.
The report, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, ranked Nigeria 10th on the list of asylum claimants to the world’s richest countries in 2011.
Afghans topped the list of global asylum claims in 2011, followed by Chinese and Iraqis.
Overall, the report which surveyed asylum applications to 44 industrialised countries, found that applications rose to 441,300 in 2011 from 368,000 the previous year.
The figure represents a 20 percent increase and UNHCR said it was the highest since 2003.
The figures of Nigerians seeking asylum varied from country to country.
According to the report, 2,876 Nigerians claimed asylum in Italy in 2011, compared to 1,165 in 2010.
In other figures, Nigerians filed 1,303 applications for asylum in Switzerland while UK received 1,055.
In the U.S, a total of 257 applications were received from Nigeria asylum seekers in 2011.
Reflecting the turmoil in West Africa and in the Arab world, the UN report notes that asylum seekers from Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria and other countries reached record levels in 2011 with 16,700 more applications than in 2010.
“The country of origin of the largest number of claimants was Afghanistan, with a 34 percent increase over 2010 to 35,700. China remained the second largest source country (24,400 claimants), followed by Iraq (23,500).
“The United States, with an estimated 74,000 claims, ranks as the country with the highest number of asylum applications in 2011 among the 44 countries covered by the report.
“Globally, however, the country with the highest number of asylum applications is South Africa (not covered by the report), which saw 107,000 claims between January and December 2011,” the report says.