Around 380 thousand asylumseekers arrived in the countries of the European Union in 2002, slightly fewer than in 2001. Last year the Netherlands counted 19 thousand new asylumseekers, a decrease of 40 percent.
Asylum requests in the European Union
Asylum requests stable in EU in 1999-2002
The number of asylumseekers in the EU rose sharply in the early nineties, to nearly 700 thousand. It subsequently decreased to fewer than a quarter of a million in 1996. Since 1999, the number of requests submitted in the EU has been reasonably stable at a level of between 380 and 390 thousand a year.
Change in the number of asylum request in the EU,
Shifts within the EU in 2002
The number of asylum requests in the EU shifted between countries in 2002. In the United Kingdom the number of requests increased by 18 thousand to 110 thousand. In Sweden and Austria, too, the number of asylum requests rose sharply in 2002. In the Netherlands there was a sharp fall, just as in neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany.
Netherlands: new law restricts requests
The decrease in the number of asylum requests in the Netherlands which became visible after the introduction of a new immigration law on 1 April 2001 intensified in 2002. Nineteen thousand asylum requests were submitted, compared with 33 thousand in the previous year. In Denmark’s stricter policy had a similar effect, halving the number of asylum requests in that country.
Austria and Sweden received relatively most asylum requests
n terms of asylumseekers per thousand inhabitants, Austria received the most requests in 2002: 4.4 per thousand. Sweden and Ireland came second and third with 3.7 and 3.1 respectively. In south European countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece the number of asylum requests was relatively low.
Asylum requests in the EU per thousand inhabitants, 2002
Most asylum seekers in the EU from Iraq
Just as in 2001, Iraq was the most important country of origin of asylum seekers in 2002. In the first three quarters of 2002 36 thousand Iraqi’s requested asylum in an EU country, 7 thousand more than in the same period on 2001. Thirty percent of them requested residence in the United Kingdom. There are still many asylumseekers from former Yugoslavia; relatively many of them travel to Germany or Sweden.