More than 100,000 people requested asylum in France in 2017, a “historic” number and an increase of 17 per cent on the year before, according to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA).
In a statement on Monday, OFPRA director Pascal Brice said the figures show that “France is one of the top countries for seeking asylum in Europe” after Germany, which expects to receive just under 200,000 requests for asylum in 2018.
But Brice expressed confidence that the situation was manageable despite France not having seen comparable levels of asylum seekers “for at least 40 years”.
“It’s not a massive influx, we are able to handle the situation,” he told France’s CNEWS channel.
The principal country of origin for asylum seekers is Albania, which France considers a “secure” country so only 6.5 per cent of requests are accepted. The overall rate of successful asylum requests has gone down to 36 per cent from 38 per cent in 2016, a slight decrease that Brice said can be attributed to the rising number of requests from Albania.
Afghanistan is the second most common country of origin, with 5,987 requests in total last year. Of that number, 83 per cent were granted refugee status.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of French-speaking and West African nationals seeking asylum, particularly Ivorians, whose numbers have more than doubled (to 3,243) and nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (2,941).
French President Emmanuel Macron has previously called for a maximum wait time of two months for asylum seekers to have their cases processed. According to OFPRA, the current average wait time is three months.
© FRANCE 24