A “Global Trends” report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees finds that Colombia ranks third worldwide in the number of its citizens seeking asylum abroad, with 39,200 new applicants in 2009.
The country came sixth in terms of number of refugees worldwide, with 389,800 Colombians defined as refugees living abroad. The country producing the highest number of refugees was Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar.
This is a slight increase from last year, when the UNHCR Global Trends report found that Colombia was fifth in the world as a source country for refugees, with 374,000.
In terms of asylum applications Colombia saw an upwards trend since 2003, when the UNHCR placed it seventh world-wide, with 29,400 new asylum seekers.
This year’s report notes the granting of asylum to 26,200 Colombians by Ecuador, and the fact that the number of Colombian refugees the neighboring country has been revised upwards from 71,400 to 82,300.
“Even though asylum-seekers from Colombia sought protection in more than 40 countries, eight out of ten applied for refugee status in Ecuador,” the report states.
Colombia has the highest number of internally displaced people in the world, with 3.3 million, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 2.1 million ( by year-end 2009) – though the report notes that 500,000 displaced people are thought to have returned home.
This is a marked improvement from 2000, when UNHCR reported 525,000 internally displaced persons in Colombia
UNHCR is currently helping 73,000 Colombian refugees.
A large number of Colombian refugees also flee to Venezuela, with an estimated 180,000 arriving in the Bolivarian country since 2002. A UNHCR official on Tuesday praised Venezuela’s reception of these immigrants.