Refugees in 2006

Recent news articles about refugees in 2006 show a different picture in different European countries.

In Sweden, for example, the number of incoming refugees soared by 40% compared to last year to reach 24,000. The leading countries being Iraq and Somalia. The war between Lebanon and Israel caused more refugees from Lebanon. The article about this did not specify how these refugees managed to reach Sweden. Supposedly these refugees are coming to Sweden to join friends and family who are already living there.

In Belgium, on the other hand, the number of refugees went down by about 40% (if my calculations are right) to 11,587. 4000 less people than last year. I'm not really sure where this number comes from since the foreign office site gives the total number of asylum seekers as 7,344.

Belgium credits this drop to campaigns in Congo, Romania and Bulgaria, among others, in order to warn people of the risks of illegal immigration. Checks in Belgian airports were replaced for a time with checks at Congo's airports. The major countries from which asylum seekers come to Belgium are: Congo, Russia, Serbia-Montenegro, Iraq and Iran. Belgium also implemented tougher legislation against people smugglers and cut off financial support for asylum seekers, replacing it with material help instead. In 2000, the year before this cut in financial support went into effect 42,691 has asked for asylum in Belgium.

This comparison might be skewed, as these are only the asylum seekers in 2006 and these numbers do not include people who used other venues of immigration such as family reunification.

Sources: The Local (English), HLN (Dutch), Belgian Foreigner Office 2006 report (Dutch PDF)

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