Spain is one of the countries in Europe with the lowest rate of acceptance for persons seeking refugee protection while Nigerian nationals have the highest rejection rate of asylum applications made by Africans in Europe, reports show.
According to the annual report by Spanish NGO National Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR), Spain is among the European countries with the lowest migrant acceptance rate, having granted refugee status to only 355 refugees in 2016 (from Syria, Eritrea, Palestine, and Pakistan) compared to the 16,000 it had agreed to host.
Refugee status for only 3.4 per cent of applicants
Paloma Favieres, of CEAR’s legal service, called the figures “dramatic”. “Spain recognised only 355 people as refugees, based on criteria established by the Geneva Convention – only 3.4 per cent of those who applied for asylum – compared to 41 per cent of the applications in Germany or 21 per cent of the applications in France,” Favieres said. However, CEAR considers positive the fact that 6,500 people, of whom 6,160 are Syrian, obtained subsidiary protection from the Spanish government in 2016, compared to 500 in 2015.
“But we look with concern at the refusal of all of those who are fleeing other conflicts, such as those in Ukraine or Mali,” Favieres said. Spain has thus far only honoured 8 per cent of its commitment to the relocation and redistribution of the 16,000 refugees it agreed to.
High rejection rate for Nigerians
A wider glance at the continent provided by a 2016 report from UN Refugee Agency UNHCR shows the countries that had the highest rate of rejection in the EU last year were Afghanistan (41,163 applications rejected), Iraq (35,044), Pakistan (24,558), Nigeria (21,427), and Mali, all of which have elevated levels of violence and instability. This, despite the fact that Afghanistan has the second-highest number of refugees in the world (2.5 million in total), followed by Syria with 5.5 million.
“Despite the fact that Afghanistan has been living under armed conflict since 2001, Brussels left it out of the 2015 relocation accords,” Favieres said, adding that Syria, “where the refugee crisis is the media focus, had 824,400 asylum requests accepted on a worldwide level in 2016”. Favieres said the criteria for acceptance of requests aren’t uniformly applied throughout Europe. Even Germany, which has the third-highest level of acceptance for Afghanis, carried out 80,000 expulsions of Afghanis in one year, according to government figures.