EU faces challenges as arrivals increase and applications for asylum reach record highs, the executive director of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) said on Monday.
Presenting Asylum Report 2023 on figures of last year to the European Parliament, Nina Gregori said it was “quite dramatic and unprecedented year.”
In addition to about 4 million people who fled Ukraine following Russia’s war which began on Feb. 24, 2022, applications for international protection increased by one-half to almost 1 million, Gregori said.
“So 13 EU+ countries received the highest number of applications on record,” she said, noting that countries issued a total of 646,000 first-instance asylum application decisions in 2022 – an increase of one-fifth compared to the year before.
Almost 39% of these decisions rented refugee or subsidiary protection, she said, citing the report, and added that the number of asylum cases awaiting first instant decision reached “a level not seen since early 2017” with 687,000.
According to the report, seven out of every 10 applications were lodged in five receiving countries: Germany (244,000), France (156,000), Spain (118,000), Austria (109,000) and Italy (84,000).
During the record-breaking years of 2015 and 2016, Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian citizens were the most common applicants for international protection. The spike in applications in 2022, on the other hand, was attributable to a far broader range of countries seeking protection in Europe.
The top countries of origin in 2022 applications were Syria (138,000) and Afghanistan (132,000), with further applications coming from Venezuela (51,000), and Colombia (43,000), the report found.
“The numbers show increasing pressure on the asylum and reception system. And there are concerns regarding secondary movements. But 2022 has also given them reasons to be optimistic,” Gregori said. “Europe rose to the challenge with the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive by providing temporary protection to millions of people who needed that.”
“There is still a lot to do, but I remain optimistic that the next step will be a solid step forward,” she concluded.
Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.