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UNHCR-RSD focus moving to Asia

June 20, 2005

From 1999 through 2002, UNHCR-RSD had been predominantly Middle Eastern, as UNHCR offices in the Middle East and North Africa received 45 percent of UNHCR’s global RSD applications.* But in 2003, according to analysis of UNHCR’s reports, UNHCR-RSD’s center of gravity moved to Asia.

UNHCR offices in south and southeast Asia accounted for 49 percent of new applications to UNHCR, while the Middle East and North Africa accounted for 24 percent.

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 2003

South/SE Asia:              49%

Middle East/N Africa:    24%

Sub-Saharan Africa:     15%

E. Europe & Turkey:      9%

Central Asia:                  2%

Following this trend, UNHCR’s Malaysia office received more individual refugee claims than any other worldwide, while Thailand and Pakistan also grew in UNHCR-RSD prominence. Egypt, which had been UNHCR’s largest RSD operation from 2000-2002, fell to second. Sub-Saharan African applications also have been declining as a proportion of UNHCR’s overall RSD operations. These trends appear to have begun in 2002.

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 2002

Middle East/N Africa:      38%

South/SE Asia:                20%

Sub-Saharan Africa:       20%

Central Asia:                   8%

E. Europe & Turkey:       2%

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 2001

Middle East/N Africa:      40%

Sub-Saharan Africa:       27%

E. Europe & Turkey:       11%

Central Asia:                   10%

South/SE Asia:                9%

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 2000

Middle East/N Africa:      56%

Sub-Saharan Africa:       18%

E. Europe & Turkey:       10%

South/SE Asia:                7%

Central Asia:                   6%

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 1999

Middle East/N Africa:      44%

E. Europe & Turkey:       12%

Sub-Saharan Africa:       12%

Central Asia:                   4%

South/SE Asia:                9%

Percent of UNHCR RSD applications by region in 1998

E. Europe & Turkey:       54%

Middle East/N Africa:      25%

Sub-Saharan Africa:       12%

Central Asia:                   3%

South/SE Asia:                5%

*On this website, Turkey is counted with Eastern Europe in view of its increasing links to the European Union. However, if it were counted with the Middle East and North Africa, the region’s proportion of UNHCR-RSD would rise. Turkey receives refugees from Iraq and Iran, among others, and as a site for RSD its UNHCR office has been in the top five in terms of number of applications received for five of the last six years.

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