MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - "Asylum Trends" report issued by the UNHCR, United Nations Refugee Agency, Friday says the number of asylum claims from Syria, Iraq and other conflict-torn countries increased in the first half of 2014.
"We are clearly into an era of growing conflict," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said, as stated on the agency's official website.
"The global humanitarian system is already in great difficulty. The international community needs to prepare their populations for the reality that in the absence of solutions to conflict more and more people are going to need refuge and care in the coming months and years," Guterres added.
The report examined the data from 44 governments in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. The report warns that "2014 could produce as many as 700,000 claims – which could make it the highest level in industrialized countries in 20 years and a level not seen since the 1990s conflict in former Yugoslavia."
The countries that saw a major increase in asylum claims are Germany, the United States, France, Sweden, Turkey and Italy. Central Europe saw decline in applications.
Syria became the main country of origin of asylum-seekers. According to UNHCR, "Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people have become newly displaced this year, produced 21,300 asylum applications, followed by Afghanistan (19,300) and Eritrea (18,900)."
Anti-government protests that erupted in Syria in March 2011 triggered an increasingly bloody civil war in the country that, according to UN recent estimates has claimed the lives of more than 191,000 people over a three-year period. The civil was forced as many as three million more to flee their homes.
A new threat came from the Islamic State (IS), a Sunni militant group that controls vast territories in Syria and northern Iraq. Their radical take on Islam has already forced tens of thousands of Christians, Shias and Yazidis to flee their homes.