Asylum requests fall in France
Asylum requests fell by 10 percent last year in France, which lost its place as the most popular destination for asylum seekers in Europe.
PARIS, April 4, 2008 (AFP) - Asylum requests fell by 10 percent last year
in France, which lost its place as the most popular destination for asylum
seekers in Europe, an official report showed Thursday.
The number of applications was down by 9.7 percent, at 35,520, in line with
a trend begun in 2004, according to the French refugee office OFPRA.
France still had the second highest number of asylum seekers in the
European Union in 2007, after Sweden, which handled 36,207 applications -- a
50-percent increase year-on-year -- and ahead of Germany, Greece and Britain.
Asylum requests are also falling towards traditional host nations Germany
and Austria, but have boomed on the EU's southern and eastern borders: in
Greece, Italy, Spain and Poland, the report showed.
The head of the asylum seeker rights group CFDA, Patrick Delouvin, said the
fall in France was due "largely to government measures restricting access to
our territory and intended to dissuade asylum seekers from coming."
French authorities granted refugee status to 8,781 people in 2007, or 29.9
percent of applicants, compared to 19.5 percent the previous year.
The largest groups of first-time asylum applicants were Kosovo Albanians,
Turks, and Russians -- many of them Chechens.
France counts 130,926 people with official refugee status, with
applications by Malians, Eritreans and Rwandans the most often accepted.
Most likely to have their applications turned down are Turks, Chinese and
citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo.