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Hundreds of World Youth Day Pilgrims Still Seeking Asylum in Australia

World Youth Day 2008 is far from over for hundreds of young people from around the world who are petitioning the Australian courts to grant them asylum rather than force them to return home and face almost certain persecution.

According to The Australian, more than 250 pilgrims are petitioning Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship for protection visas because they fear they will be persecuted upon returning home. As of July of last year, 40 percent of the pilgrims were granted visas after it was determined that their fears of persecution were legitimate. Another 153 whose petitions failed are appealing the decisions.

Last week, the case of an activist of India's ruling Congress Party who claimed to have been brutalized by communists in his home state of Kerala was dismissed by Australia's Federal Court. Indians comprised 32 percent of World Youth Day asylum seekers although none of their applications were accepted.

The Australian reports that the group of pilgrims who sought protection in Australia included 20 Kenyans, 17 Bangladeshis, 10 Nigerians, nine East Timorese, eight Ugandans, eight Fijians, seven Tongans, six Cameroonians and six Burmese.

About 0.55 per cent of World Youth Day pilgrims overstayed their visas in 2008, which is slightly higher than normal.

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