The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., today announced provisional asylum figures for the year 2009.

In all some 2,689 asylum applications were received in the State in 2009 representing a 30.5% decrease on the corresponding figure of 3,866 in 2008. There were 1,758 (65.4%) male and 931 (34.6%) female asylum applications in 2009 while the corresponding figures in 2008 were 2,469 (63.9%) male and 1,397 (36.1%) female applications.

The top five source nationalities for applications in 2009 were Nigeria with 569 (21.1%), Pakistan (9.6%), China (7.2%), DR Congo (3.8%) and Zimbabwe (3.4%). In 2008, Nigeria and Pakistan were also the largest and second largest source nationality, while China was the fifth largest nationality.

While asylum application numbers reached a peak of 11,634 in 2002, the number of applications since then has fallen continuously with the fall in applications in 2009 being the third largest in percentage terms. Indeed, asylum application numbers are now at levels not observed since the mid-nineties. Over the past ten years Nigerians have consistently been the largest single source nationality for asylum applications reaching a peak of nearly 40% of all applications in 2003 and being above 1/3rd of all applications through the years 2001 to 2004.

The Minister indicated that this reduction in the number of asylum applications over the years has resulted from the success of strategies aimed at combating across the spectrum abuses of the asylum process and the streamlining of processing arrangements in the asylum area.

In assessing the figures for 2009 the Minister noted that:

236 deportation orders to non-EU countries were effected in respect of failed asylum seekers, representing an increase of 107 (83%) over the number of orders effected in 2008.

243 transfer orders to other European States were effected under the Dublin II Regulation, representing a 61% success rate for effecting transfer orders signed in 2009. This compares to 74% in 2008, 62% in 2007 and 53% in 2006. Ireland's success rate in this regard is high by European standards and is due in the main to a number of strategies that have been adopted to improve the operation of the Dublin II Regulation in Ireland.

An additional 202 failed asylum seekers who would otherwise have been removed from the State opted to be assisted to return home voluntarily. This is a 38% increase on 2008 when 146 failed asylum seekers opted to be assisted to return home voluntarily.

When voluntary returns, deportations and Dublin II transfers are taken account of, a total of 681 persons in the asylum system were either assisted to return home voluntarily, or were removed from the State in 2009. This is a substantial increase of 24.7% on the corresponding figure for 2008.

Commenting on the statistics, Minister Ahern said: "I welcome the continuing decrease in asylum numbers particularly in light of the considerable challenge associated with the processing of these applications and related costs to the State. When compared to other EU member states Ireland experienced one of the largest percentage reductions in asylum applications in 2009. Indeed about 50% of EU member states experienced an increase in asylum application numbers last year.  

This reduction is a reflection of the ongoing work within the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service including the asylum agencies to combat abuse and to improve the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of procedures in this area. I might add that information available to us also suggests that many asylum applicants are economic migrants. Therefore it is possible that economic conditions in Ireland may have been a factor in the reduction in asylum application numbers in 2009.

I am also pleased with the continued high level of success in effecting transfer orders signed under the Dublin II Regulation, which is a cornerstone of the European asylum system. These transfers reduce the number of asylum applications which have to be processed in the State and their associated cost."

In conclusion, the Minister thanked the staff in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and its related agencies (ORAC, RAT and RIA) for their work during the year.  He also again paid tribute to the Garda National Immigration Bureau for the critical work it undertakes in areas such as border management and illegal immigration generally, and moreover for the important enforcement work it undertakes in effecting removals from the State.

8 January 2010

Note to Editors:

1. Asylum Applications 1997-2009 

Year 

Jan 

Feb 

Mar 

April 

May 

June 

July 

Aug 

Sept 

Oct 

Nov 

Dec 

Total 

1997 

235

243

199

380

423

454

378

354

326

307

241

343

3883

1998 

321

425

632

407

390

440

449

407

313

246

278

318

4626

1999 

234

234

358

315

381

453

571

962

938

1051

1010

1217

7724

2000 

976

864

972

1036

802

677

773

919

963

1098

1096

762

10938

2001 

840

706

763

741

838

882

961

983

855

892

904

960

10325

2002 

838

763

932

888

795

869

1133

995

1199

1148

984

1090

11634

2003 

979

947

892

667

604

661

646

655

611

496

395

347

7900

2004 

392

363

501

377

403

324

371

401

466

329

409

430

4766

2005 

393

377

489

320

322

315

325

348

372

320

346

396

4323

2006 

405

313

438

282

412

278

313

332

422

394

415

310

4314

2007 

385

333

347

277

318

316

358

294

318

356

343

340

3985

2008 

329

296

299

300

301

330

339

333

360

357

325

297

3866

2009 

254

270

270

241

229

244

218

226

197

203

176

161

2689

 

 

2. Top 5 Source Countries of asylum applications made in Ireland in 2009 and 2008
2009 2008

Country of Origin

as % of overall applicants

Number of applicants


Country of Origin

Number of applicants

as % of overall applicants

Nigeria

21.1%

569


Nigeria

1,009

26.1%

Pakistan

9.6%

257


Pakistan

237

6.1%

China

7.2%

194


Iraq

203

5.3%

DR Congo

3.8%

102


Georgia

181

4.7%

Zimbabwe

3.4%

91


China

180

4.7%

Others

54.9%

1,476


Others

2,056

53.2%

Total

100.0%

2,689 


Total

3,866

100.0%