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Number of refugee applicants in Japan hits record high in 2013

The number of people who applied for refugee status in Japan hit a record high of 3,260 in 2013, up 715 from the previous record in 2012, the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau said Thursday. The figure marked the third straight year of increase, but the number of people granted refugee status plunged to six in 2013 from 18 in the previous year, according to the bureau. Among those who applied, Turkish nationals constituted the largest group at 658, followed by 544 from Nepal, 380 from Myanmar and 345 from Sri Lanka.

China plans investment and reform to ease urbanization drive

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is planning a major expansion of its transport networks and urban infrastructure as it seeks to increase migration from rural to urban areas, lifting incomes and demand to drive continued economic growth. The 2014-20 urbanization plan released on Sunday aims to boost domestic consumption by increasing the proportion of urban residents among China's population of almost 1.4 billion to 60 percent by 2020, up from 53.7 percent now.

US urges Thailand to protect Uighur asylum seekers

The United States on Friday urged Thailand to protect about 200 asylum seekers from China's Uighur minority, with activists fearing that Beijing will pressure the kingdom to deport them. Thai police said Thursday that they discovered the families in a raid in the kingdom's deep south. The asylum seekers, who appeared to be preparing to head elsewhere, presented themselves as Turkish rather than Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim group from China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

UN says 'timely' that Jordan opening new Syria camp in April

The opening of a third refugee camp in Jordan next month is "timely" as the number of Syrians crossing the border has swelled to around 600 a day, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. The UNHCR said in Geneva it "welcomes a decision this week by the Jordanian government to open the country's third refugee camp -- Azraq -- in a few weeks from now, on 30 April." The camp, located some 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Amman, will help take some of the pressure off Jordan's main Zaatari camp, which is bursting at the seams, it said.

China two-child policy not imminent

China's health ministry on Thursday dampened speculation that the country could dump its one-child policy and allow families to have two. The world's most populous country has restricted most families to one child since the late 1970s, but its ruling Communist party said in November that couples would be allowed to have two children so long as one of the parents is an only child.

Don't forget Mali's refugees, aid groups urge

Mali's conflict and the ensuing flood of refugees must not be forgotten amid the multiplication of global crises, the UN's refugee agency and the World Food Programme insisted Tuesday. In a joint statement, the two aid bodies said that funds are "urgently needed to continue providing vital assistance to Malian refugees".

Rising immigration embarrasses Britain's Cameron before vote

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge to cut annual net migration to below 100,000 was undermined on Thursday after figures showed the net flow of migrants coming into Britain rose by 37 percent to 212,000 people in the year to September 2013. With polls regularly showing immigration to be one of the top three concerns for Britons, Cameron is under pressure ahead of European elections in May and a national election next year to make good on his promise to cut net migration to the "tens of thousands" by 2015.

Baby births drop for first time in 4 years in 2013: data

SEJONG, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea dropped for the first time in four years in 2013, a report showed Thursday, deepening worries for a country whose already low birthrate undermines its growth potential. According to the report by Statistics Korea, 436,600 babies were born last year, down 48,000 or 9.9 percent from a year earlier. The number marked the lowest since 2005 when 435,031 babies were born. It also represented the first time that childbirths have declined on a year-on-year basis since 2009.

Baby births drop for first time in 4 years in 2013: data

SEJONG, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea dropped for the first time in four years in 2013, a report showed Thursday, deepening worries for a country whose already low birthrate undermines its growth potential. According to the report by Statistics Korea, 436,600 babies were born last year, down 48,000 or 9.9 percent from a year earlier. The number marked the lowest since 2005 when 435,031 babies were born. It also represented the first time that childbirths have declined on a year-on-year basis since 2009.

5 years ago, Syria was world's second-largest refugee host. Now, it's set to be the world's biggest source of refugees

Syrians fleeing the civil war in their homeland are about to displace Afghans as the world's largest refugee population, the United Nations said Tuesday. Briefing the General Assembly by video link, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres painted a devastating picture of the humanitarian crisis as a result of the three-year conflict. He said nearly 2.5 million Syrians have now registered as refugees with UNHCR in neighboring countries in the Middle East.
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