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More Armenians Seek Asylum in Developed Countries

The number of Armenian citizens seeking asylum in developed countries has been on the rise in the past two years, according to a UN refugee agency.

In a recently published report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more than 11,000 citizens of Armenia have asked the governments of wealthy nations in the West to grant them asylum during the period in question.

Thus, according to the report, the number of applications for asylum from Armenians in France doubled in 2011 to more than 3,600 as compared to the previous year’s figure, making citizens of Armenia the third largest group of asylum seekers in France after citizens of Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which, by contrast, have populations of around 140 million and 70 million, respectively.

Apart from France, such countries as Australia, Germany, Canada and Poland have also reported an increase in the number of asylum applicants from Armenia.

Armenia is the 16th among the world’s 40 nations whose citizens most frequently seek asylum in Europe. Remarkably, it has the smallest population among the top 20 countries on this list. In 2011, more than 6,000 Armenians applied for asylum in European countries, an increase by a thousand as compared to the year before.

In contrast, the number of asylum seekers in Armenia has been steadily on the decline in the past five years. Whereas the number of foreigners applying for asylum in Armenia in 2007 was 300, then in 2011 it dropped to 70.

In general, analyzing the global trends, the authors of the report conclude that the number of people seeking asylum from the governments of industrialized nations has increased by 20 percent in the wake of the revolutions that started in the Arab world in 2011, with the number of Arab refugees in Europe reaching a record high.

Article originally published by RFE/RL’s Armenian service.