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Recently arrived migrants being registered in Italy, June 2017 / Photo: UNHCR

EU: Asylum applications drop to 2014 levels, Germany remains top destination

Latest figures show an overall fall in the number of new asylum requests in the EU, compared to 2015 and 2016. Asylum is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory. It is granted to a person who is unable to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

The number of people seeking asylum in Europe has dropped compared to the peak years of the refugee crisis in 2015-16.

According to the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat, the number of first time asylum applicants in the 28 member states of the EU decreased by -55 % in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of 2016.

Overall, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU during the third quarter of 2017 was 164,300, a number around the levels recorded in 2014, before the 2015 peaks.

Analysts attribute the trend to the decrease in the number of migrants arriving from Libya, which has dropped by as much as 80 percent in the third quarter of 2017. Increasing co-operation of the EU with the Libyan authorities has made it difficult for migrants to set off from the coast of the North African country to reach Europe across the Mediterranean. The EU deal with Turkey is another major reason for the drop in the number of first time asylum applicants in Europe.

First time asylum applicants, January 2016 – September 2017

Source: Eurostat

 

Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis applied for refugee status in far fewer numbers in the third quarter of this year, compared to the same quarter last year. The number of Afghans dropped by some 85 percent, while those from Syria, Iran and Iraq fell in number by around 70 percent.

But the nations continue to top the list among the first-time applicants in EU countries. Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans lodged 26,600, 12,500 and 9,900 applications respectively.

There was also a fall in new applications from some of the main African countries on the list, such as Nigeria (-37%), Eritrea (-32%) and Somalia (-49%).

Meanwhile, there was a sharp rise in the number of new asylum seekers from Turkey (+35%), Venezuela (+123%), and especially from Palestine (+168%).

Germany remains the top destination

The highest number of first time asylum applicants in the third quarter of 2017 was registered in Germany (with over 46,000, or 28 % of all applicants in the EU member states), followed by Italy (32,500, or 20%), France (22,200, or 14%), Greece (14,600, or 9%) and Spain (8,700, or 5%). These 5 countries together account for 76 % of all first time applicants in the EU-28.

Some 43 percent of asylum decisions in the EU were positive, the Eurostat figures show, with most being issued to Syrians, followed by Afghans and Iraqis.

Germany issued by far the most total first instance decisions during the third quarter of 2017 (90,900 decisions), followed by France (30,500), Italy (18,600), Sweden (15,100), Austria (14,700) and Greece (6,800).

Austin Ohaegbu

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