UNHCR global recognition rate = 83%

Post Date: Jun 27th, 2012 | Categories: Media, Refugee Community | COMMENT


Refugee status applications to UNHCR offices worldwide declined to 96,800 in 2010, after topping 114,000 in 2009. The decline roughly followed a global trend, with applications to government-run RSD systems also dropping in 2010. UNHCR accounted for around 11 percent of all RSD applications worldwide, down from 13 percent in 2009. But UNHCR continues to be one of the two largest RSD decision-makers.

The largest RSD decision-maker continues to be the government of South Africa, which received 180,637 asylum applicants. The United States had the next largest government RSD system with an estimated 54,300 applicants, far less than UNHCR.

The recognition rate in UNHCR RSD remained high at around 83 percent, compared to less than 35 percent for government-run RSD. UNHCR’s global recognition rate has remained consistently over 75 percent each year since 2005. Every UNHCR office that decided 1000 or more cases in 2010 posted a recognition rate of at least 57 percent. UNHCR offices reached decision in only 57,832 new applications, and faced a global RSD backlog of more than 116,000 cases at year’s end.

“The importance of these procedures cannot be overemphasized.
A wrong decision might cost the person’s life or liberty.” 

UNHCR training manual



  1. RRR (refugee recognition rates) only paint the outline of a picture that is far more complex and human to be reduced to statistical averages. Whether the UNHCR Hong Kong rate is 10%, arguably much lower (we believe about 3%), or 100% as it is in Portugal, it doesn’t matter if the process is transparent and fair. What is important is that every single claimant is given a fair chance to prove his/her case. What is vital is that decision makers are not biased to reject and the system is not fast-tracking the undesirable out-of-sight and out-of-justice. If human rights are respected and everyone given an honest chance, surely the rates will rise naturally to the right values.

    Recognition rates give an idea of how claims may be handled in different countries. However, dealing only with recognition rates is confusing as different circumstances take place in different states every month. For example, compare the Australian rate in Q1 2011 (53.2%) with that in Q1 2012 (38.3%), a large variation dependents on arrivals, politics and policy changes. Numbers alone can polarize opinions and lead to heated debates nobody can win. Instead, we should consider them as sign-posts towards better accomplishments that must be achieved with respect of individual cases. While advocating for accountability in both the UNHCR and ImmD Torture claim assessment, Vision First stresses the need for genuine investigative care. We also stress the need to know why that the RRR in Hong Kong are so much lower than in other countries. We wonder how this is possible, considering that the people who land here are of the same nationalities of those seeking asylum elsewhere with similar stories of persecution and injustice.

  2. Thank you Vision First for your encouraging work. I was released this week from CIC, with legal aid for judicial review, after eight months of detention. CAT rejected my case, but I have strong reasons to take my story to the high court for consideration. I would like to share with your readers that when detained in Pik Uk Prison, the newspaper articles about Vision First were cut out and pasted on the wall for everyone to read. The same happened last week in CIC detention: your refugee day article was cut out and everyone was cheering VF for proposing that asylum-seekers and refugees are allowed to work temporarily. How else are we supposed to survive. Today I have neither UNHCR case nor Torture case, therefore ISS will not provide me rent assistance or emergency food. I have been released from detention to lodge a judicial review, but the government provides NOTHING for my survival! Your work gives us strength as we knew somebody cares about our suffering – thank you. MT

  3. http://visionfirstnow.org/uploads/Asylum-recognition-rates-2010.pdf


    United Kingdom 35% granted asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave


    Australia 38.3% final protection rate (regular maritime arrivals with visa)
    Australia 62.8% final protection rate (irregular maritime arrivals without visa)

  4. Eurostat - June 2012

    27 European Union Member States granted protection to 84 100 asylum seekers in 2011


    Total First Instance acceptance rate = 25.1%
    Total Final positive decisions on appeal = 19.2%

    Including three groups:

    Person granted refugee status means a person covered by a decision granting refugee status, taken by administrative or judicial bodies during the reference period.

    Person granted subsidiary protection status means a person covered by a decision granting subsidiary protection status, taken by administrative or judicial bodies during the reference period

    Person granted authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons means a person covered by a decision granting
    authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons under national law concerning international protection, taken by administrative or judicial bodies during the reference period