Every six months, the UN Refugee Agency publishes statistics on the number of people who apply for asylum in industrialized countries.  The twice yearly “Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries” is something of a proxy for trends in global conflict, crises and displacement.

And this year, the number of asylum seekers is poised to hit a 8 year high.  The report finds 198,300 asylum applications were lodged in the period between January 1 and June 30, compared to 169,300 in the same period in 2010 — a 17% increase. If the current trend continues, over 400,000 people will have applied for asylum in 2011.

Afghanistan is the single biggest source country for asylum seekers. This should not come as a surprise: violence is up significantly in Afghanistan in 2011 over previous years.  Civil unrest in Cote D’Ivoire and the upheavals in the Arab Spring (particularly Tunisia); and other long standing disputes. China, Kosovo and Iraq were also major sources of asylum seekers.

Here are the top destination countries.

It probably comes as no comfort to asylum seekers that the United States is embarking on a massive immigration clampdown.  Check out the full report.

Unhcr Report

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