Why don’t you go and live there?
The number of Iraqis fleeing to Europe to claim asylum almost doubled in 2007, contradicting claims that the country is stabilising after five years of turmoil.
Iraqis now account for the biggest national group of refugees, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports today, and the numbers fleeing the war-torn country have almost reached the peak seen in 2002 when record numbers escaped Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The total of Iraqis applying for asylum in the European Union rose from 19,375 in 2006 to 38,286 last year, an increase of 98 per cent. The largest number (18,600) headed for Sweden, which has taken the most sympathetic approach to Iraqis, with 90 per cent of those claiming refuge allowed to stay, compared with about one in eight in Britain. Iraqis now represent the largest foreign-born population in the Scandinavian country.
Greece, meanwhile, received 5,500 Iraqi asylum applications, while 4,200 claimed refuge in Germany and 2,100 in the United Kingdom. By contrast the United States reported just 734 applications.
An estimated 4.7 million Iraqis have lost their homes over the last five years, with 1.2 million living in exile in Syria and 560,000 in Jordan. UNHCR called for EU nations to do more to shoulder the burden by giving extra help to Iraq’s neighbours and resettling more refugees.