However, a recent poll revealed that on average the British public believes that 23 percent of the world's refugees and asylum seekers are in the UK, which is more than ten times the actual figure.
According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), there were almost 19.8 million people of concern to the agency worldwide as of 1 January 2002, of which over 12 million were refugees and 940,800 were asylum seekers. Approximately one in every 300 people on earth is a refugee. (Refugee, 2005a)
two third of all refugees are hosted in the Middle East and in Africa. Taking the greatest burdens are Iran, Burundi and Guinea. Indeed, monthly asylum figures in countries such, as Tanzania and Pakistan are comparable to the total annual asylum application statistics of some of the European countries. (Refugee, 2005a)
Population: The UK also takes in a small number of refugees relative to its population. Whereas the UK hosts just over 3 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants or 0.3 per cent of its population, Armenia hosts 70, Congo hosts 40, and Yugoslavia hosts 38. (Refugee, 2005a)
Europe: While in terms of absolute numbers the UK received more applicants (85,865) than any other EU country in 2002. Most of the applicants were from Iraq, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Afghanistan, countries with well-documented human rights abuses. Between 1990 and 2000, just under two million people applied for asylum in Germany, four times as many as in the UK.
When compared to the size of the total national population among European countries to host asylum seekers, the UK ranked only 8th in Europe in 2002 and 12th over the past decade as a whole (1992-2001). Whereas the UK received 1.9 asylum seekers per 1,000 inhabitants, it lagged well behind Austria (4.6 per capita), Norway (3.9), Sweden (3.7), Switzerland, Ireland (3.1), Liechtenstein (2.8) and Luxembourg (2.4). (Refugee, 2005a)
Applications in the UK accounted for 19 percent of all asylum claims lodged in the industrialised world during 2002, followed by the USA (14 percent), Germany (12 percent) and France (9 percent). The UK, Germany and France accounted for 50 percent of all asylum applications submitted in Europe in 2002, with the UK taking 24 percent. However, the UK's refugee population is by no means disproportionate when compared to the rest of Europe. In 2001, the UK's proportion of refugees to its population was roughly in line with that of Europe as a whole a ratio of 1 to 317. Refugee Action supports current discussions amongst European governments for a common, unified EU policy for dealing with asylum applications which would ensure that European countries share their responsibilities while maintaining the highest standards of refugee protection and human rights. (Refugee, 2005a)
During 1992-2001, while 86 percent of the world's estimated 12 million refugees originated from developing countries. For