SEOUL, May 24 (Korea Bizwire) — This year’s average number of cases to determine the status of refugees each month from January to March has set a new record.
The Korea Immigration Service reported that the number of deliberations on the status of refugees reached 3,638 cases between January and March of this year, which was more than half of last year’s total number of deliberation cases (6,254 cases).
Compared with the January to March period last year (813 cases), there were four times more cases this year. It is also the first time that more than 1,000 cases have been processed in a single month.
There were a total of 16,531 asylum seekers awaiting deliberations as of March of this year.
The surging number of deliberations and applications for refugee status is attributed to stricter requirements and the coronavirus pandemic, which have driven asylum seekers to flock to the immigration office.
“Following the coronavirus outbreak, stricter requirements on earning refugee status have prompted rejected applicants to request re-deliberation,” said Kim Do-kyun, a sociology professor at Cheju Halla University.
Between January and March, the refugee acceptance rate dropped to 0.2 percent, falling below one-fifth of last year’s record (1.1 percent).
Experts argue that the excessive workload of having to deliberate on more than 1,000 refugee applications each month undermines the effort to properly carry out deliberations.
There were 93 employees in charge of handling refugee applications as of April, which indicates that each staffer is required to process as many as 200 refugee applications, according to the Ministry of Justice.
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)