A facility housing refugees and asylum-seekers in Berlin/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

EU: Half a million asylum applications in six months

A total of 519,000 asylum applications were filed in European countries in the first half of this year, marking an increase of 28 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to the latest report of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

“As a result of the increase, many EU+ countries* are under pressure with processing applications and protecting those in need. Accordingly, the number of cases awaiting decisions also increased by 34 % from 2022. In addition, approximately 4 million Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, currently benefit from Temporary Protection. Together, these parallel trends pose significant challenges to EU+ asylum and reception systems authorities, so much so that by June 2023, the EUAA was offering operational assistance to 13 Member States,” the report said.

The EUAA data show that Syrians submitted 67,000 asylum applications in the first half of 2023, marking a significant increase of 47 per cent compared to the same period in 2022. As EUAA noted, this is the highest number recorded for this period since 2016.

Syrians have consistently been the leading nationals asking for protection in the bloc. Germany remains the primary recipient of Syrian asylum applications, handling 62 per cent of all requests during the first half of 2023.

According to the EUAA report, Syrians enjoy the highest recognition rate. They are granted international protection at a rate of over 95 per cent.

“Of the decisions in the EU+ taken at first instance, around 41 % granted either refugee status or subsidiary protection. Recognition rates for many citizenships remained consistent with past trends – for example, Syrians continued to be granted international protection at a rate of around 95 % and Afghans at around 58 %,” the report said.

“However, some recognition rates have undergone significant changes, these include Turkish applicants who, for four years, have steadily been granted protection less often (down to 28 % from 54 % in 2019), and Russians and Iranians who have been granted international protection more frequently (up to 35 % from 20 % in 2021 for the former, and up to 47 % from 31 % in 2020 for the latter).”

The EUAA also revealed a notable uptake in asylum applications from Ivorian (9,300) and Guinean (8,700) nationals in the EU+. Ivorian applications more than doubled, while Guinean submissions rose by 60 % compared to the same period in the previous year.

“However, taken together, applications by these two nationalities still only accounted for 3.5 % of the overall figure. France, historically, tends to receive most of these applications but much of the recent increase has taken place in Italy. The recognition rates for both these citizenships have been steadily increasing from 2017 to reach 28 % for Ivorians and 32 % for Guineans, in the first half of 2023,” the report revealed.

Felix Dappah

* EU+ Countries are members of the EU and Iceland, Israel, Turkiye, and the UK

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