Refugee Council of Australia
Panama migrants and refugees continue to cross the darien jungle in

Is Australia’s response to refugees generous? An analysis of UNHCR Global Trends statistics from 2013 to 2022

Asylum applications received

The number of people who sought asylum in 2022 was 6.94 million – 2.78 million individual asylum applications, 3.82 million applications for temporary protection and 336,777 people given asylum under group recognition processes. The largest numbers of asylum applications were in Germany (1,157,934), Poland (966,808), United States (743,641) and Spain (276,639). On a per capita basis, the largest number of applications were received in Czechia (41.3 asylum applications per 1000 population), Estonia (33.5), Cyprus (31.0), Costa Rica (25.1) and Bulgaria (24.9). Relative to national GDP, the largest number of asylum applications were received in Niger, Uganda, Chad, Costa Rica and Bulgaria.

Australia received 29,555 asylum applications in 2022 (28,055 individual applications and 1,500 temporary protection applications), 0.43% of the global total. On this measure, Australia was ranked 40th overall, 48th per capita (1.1 applications per 1000 population) and 88th relative to GDP (19 applications for each billion dollars of GDP, compared to 3,129 for Niger).

Over the 10 years to December 2022, Australia received 258,850 asylum applications, 0.75% of the global total of
34.4 million. The number of asylum applications in Australia over those 10 years peaked at 39,463 in 2019, while just 8,988 applications were received in 2014.

On a global level, the number of asylum applications was lowest in 2020 as a result of the COVID pandemic (1.47 million) and highest in 2022 (6.9 million) because of the war in Ukraine.

Asylum applications pending

As at 31 December 2022, there were 5.33 million asylum applications pending. The largest numbers of applications pending were in the United States (1.79 million), Peru (536,860), Türkiye (266,715), Germany (253,856) and Costa Rica (238,840).

On a per capita basis, the largest numbers of pending applications are in Costa Rica (46.0 applications per 1000 population), Cyprus (28.4), Peru (15.8), Trinidad and Tobago (13.1) and Djibouti (8.2). Relative to national GDP, applications were highest in Costa Rica, Niger, Djibouti, Somalia and Peru.

With 87,753 pending asylum applications at 31 December 2022, Australia is ranked 11th overall, 15th on a per capita basis (3.3 applications per 1000 population) and 59th relative to GDP.

The number of pending asylum applications has increased over the past 10 years from 1.17 million in 2013 to 5.33 million in 2020. The number of applications decreased in only two of those years – 2016 and 2020.

In Australia, the number of pending applications has grown by 550% over 10 years, from 13,559 in 2013 to 87,753 in 2022. The largest increases were in 2018 and 2019 when the number of pending applications grew by nearly 30,000 in two years.

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