The total number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries rose by 17 percent in the first six months of 2011, with ‘Benefits Britain’ being the fifth most popular destination.
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said the total was likely to more than double this year and would be at the highest level for eight years.
The twice-yearly report, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, stated the increase partly reflected crises in the Ivory Coast, Somalia and Tunisia, and, of course, the Western-backed war in Libya.
But, as is usual, the main flow came from Afghanistan, China, Serbia and breakaway Kosovo, Iraq and Iran.
The report put the number of asylum seekers from January to June at 198,300, up from 169,300 in the same period in 2010.
Afghans made 15,300 claims, Chinese 11,700, Serbs and Kosovars 10,300, Iraqis 10,100 and Iranians 7,600, it said.
The figures do not include any other migrants, legal or illegal.
From January to June, the United States had far more applications than any other single industrialized country, with a total of 36,400. France was next with 26,100, followed by Germany with 20,100, according to the report.
Sweden, with 12,600, was fourth, and Britain was fifth, with 12,200 applications.
Revealingly, despite being just as ‘industrialized’ as Western nations, the numbers of asylum seekers heading for developed Asian countries were much lower.
Although applications doubled in Japan and South Korea, the two countries combined received just 1,300, up from 600 the previous year.
Conversely, altered immigration policies in Australia and New Zealand saw asylum applications drop by nearly 20 percent, from 6,300 last year for both, to 5,100 in 2011.