AP/The Independent

January 23, 2012

More Afghans fled the country and sought asylum abroad in 2011 than in any other year since the start of the decade-long war, suggesting that many are looking for their own exit strategy as Nato troops prepare to withdraw.

From January to November, more than 30,000 Afghans applied for political asylum, a 25 per cent increase over the same period the previous year and more than triple the level of just four years ago, according to UN statistics.

Many are turning to human smuggling to escape. They pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to cross into Iran or Pakistan to more than $25,000 (£16,000) for fake papers and flights to places such as London or Stockholm.

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