No fewer than 10,500 Nigerians sought asylum in industrialized countries in 2011, a United Nations refugee agency report released in Abuja has said.
This is about 10.53 per cent higher than the figure of 9,500 recorded in 2010.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that Nigeria ranks 10th on the list of asylum seekers to the world’s richest countries in 2011, with Afghans topping the list of global asylum seekers, followed by Chinese and Iraqis.
However, South Africa, which was not covered by the report, remains the country with the highest number of asylum applications globally, with about 107,000 applications filed between January and December 2011.
The UNHCR said the report, which surveyed asylum applications to 44 industrialized countries, found that applications rose to 441,300 in 2011 (about 20 per cent) from 368,000 the previous year, the highest since 2003.
The figures of Nigerians seeking asylum varied from country to country, with 2,876 Nigerians seeking asylum in Italy in 2011, compared to 1,165 in 2010, while 1,303 applications were filed for asylum in Switzerland as against 1,055 received for UK.
In the U.S, a total of 257 applications were received from Nigeria asylum seekers in 2011.
Reflecting turmoil in West Africa and in the Arab world, the UN report notes that asylum seekers from Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria and other countries reached record levels in 2011, with 16,700 more applications than in 2010.
Though the report did not give reasons why Ngerians keep leaving the country in droves, analysts say it might be unconnected with the prevailing high level of political uncertainty and economic hardship that are driving most families perpetually in search of the elusive greener pastures in other shores.
“The country of origin of the largest number of claimants was Afghanistan, with a 34 per cent increase over 2010 to 35,700,” the report said. “China remained the second largest source country (24,400 claimants), followed by Iraq (23,500). The United States, with an estimated 74,000 claims, ranks as the country with the highest number of asylum applications in 2011 among the 44 countries covered by the report.
“Globally, however, the country with the highest number of asylum applications is South Africa (not covered by the report), which saw 107,000 claims between January and December 2011,” the report says.