Afghan Asylum Seekers Reach 10-Year High

Human smuggling in Afghanistan, Pakistan worth $1B annually
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2012 6:03 AM CST
In this May 14, 2009 photo released by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency officers stand over a boat load of suspected illegal immigrants caught off the coast of Malaysia. Malaysia is deploying...   (AP Photo/Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency)
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(Newser) – In the tenth year since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, more Afghans sought asylum abroad last year than any time since the war began, reports the AP. A UN report says that more than 30,000 Afghans applied for political asylum around the world from January to November, a 25% increase over the same period in 2010. "I don't think anything will improve in three or five years, so it's better to leave now," said an unemployed 20-year-old who is trying to get to Europe via Iran, adding, "If foreign troops leave, the situation will only get worse, not better."

Experts think that the true number of people fleeing Afghanistan is much higher because of a large smuggling market that has developed. With people paying a few hundred dollars to get into Iran or Pakistan, to more than $25,000 for false papers and a flight to a country like England or Sweden, the human smuggling business in Afghanistan and Pakistan is worth more than $1 billion a year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

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