Asylum Applications in the EU Jumped to a Seven-Year HighEU | February 22, 2023, Wednesday // 11:44| views
EU asylum applications surged last year after the lifting of Covid travel restrictions, rising 50% from 2021 to the highest level since the 2016 refugee influx.
Preliminary data provided by the EU Asylum Agency (EUAA) show that in 2022, nearly one million asylum applications were submitted in the bloc's 27 member states plus Switzerland and Norway, AFP reported.
The two main nationalities seeking protection in Europe are Syrians and Afghans, who together account for a quarter of applications.
Migrants from Turkey, Venezuela, Colombia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Georgia are the next largest groups, albeit in smaller numbers.
Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion are in most cases not covered by the asylum data, as they benefit from a separate EU temporary protection regime introduced in March 2022, which gives automatic protection after registration. According to data from the EU statistical agency Eurostat, 4 million Ukrainians have benefited from the protected status and only 2% have applied for asylum. Still, that makes over 28,000 Ukrainians who applied for asylum in the EU in 2022 - the most ever recorded.
Travel restrictions that European and many other countries imposed in the early stages of the pandemic blocked the movement of many migrants, including asylum seekers. These were largely lifted in 2022 when EU countries rolled out mass vaccination programs against Covid.
According to the EUAA, a total of 966,000 asylum applications were submitted in 2022. This compares to 1,251,815 applications in 2016.
The figures show the highest number of unaccompanied minors - 43,000 - since 2015, when more than one million asylum seekers, most of them from war-torn Syria, arrived in Europe for protection. Two-thirds of unaccompanied minors are from Syria and Afghanistan.
In 2022, a total of 131,697 applications were submitted by Syrians and 128,949 applications by Afghans. This was followed by 55,437 applications from Turks and a three-fold increase in applications from Venezuelans and Colombians compared to the previous year (about 51,000 and 43,000 respectively). This is followed by smaller numbers of Bangladeshis, Georgians, Ukrainians, Indians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Nigerians and Somalis. The sixteenth largest group of asylum seekers are Russians with 16,920 applications. Then there are the candidates from Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Albania, Peru and Eritrea.
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