France is top destination for asylum seekers

20th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, May 20 (AFP) - France remains the top destination for asylum-seekers heading to industrialised countries, but numbers across rich nations have fallen, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

GENEVA, May 20 (AFP) - France remains the top destination for asylum-seekers heading to industrialised countries, but numbers across rich nations have fallen, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.  

According to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), France received 15,700 new asylum applications in the first three months of this year, 19 percent of all requests filed in 36 countries covered by the agency's statistics.  

The figure was 4 percent higher than in the period from October to December.  

Citizens of Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Serbia and Montenegro lodged the most requests in France, said UNHCR.  

The United States, Britain and Germany received the next highest number of applications.  

Overall, said UNHCR, 81,900 people filed asylum applications in the 36 countries, down 17 percent on the last three months of 2004.  

According to UNHCR, France's top ranking over the past one and a half years is linked to a fall in applications in Britain, following tougher controls there.  

Britain was long the leading destination, and in the past asylum seekers who aimed to cross the English Channel rarely made an application in France on the way, UNHCR officials said.  

Overall, citizens of Serbia and Montenegro, including people from Kosovo, made the largest number of applications across the 36 countries, although their numbers dropped by six percent to 5,100.  

UNHCR said that asylum requests by Russian citizens, who previously topped the statistics, declined 42 percent to 4,900.  

Most Russian asylum-seekers come from Chechnya.   Other leading countries of origin were China, Iraq, Georgia, Nigeria and Iran.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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