Historically, people seeking refuge from persecution would hide in churches, where they could not be harmed without their persecutors facing the wrath of God. In 511 AD this "right to asylum" was codified in French law, which is one of the reasons why churches are sometimes referred to as sanctuaries. Modern asylum came about in 1951 when a UN defined that an asylum seeker, or refugee, has "a well-founded fear of persecution", on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."
Most asylum seekers do not come from the world‘s poorest states, however many do come from failed or failing states enduring civil war and with high degrees of human rights abuses and significant levels of poverty.
People were awaiting a decision on their application for asylum at the end of 2018
New claims submitted by asylum seekers in 2018
Number of new asylum applications submitted to the United States, the world’s largest recipient of new individual applications
Unaccompanied and separated children sought asylum on an individual basis in 2018, number is considered to be a significant underestimate
Asylum seekers were granted protection in 2018, with 351,100 recognized as refugees and 149,000 granted a complementary form of protection