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EU Asylum Application Rates Reached Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2021

The European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) revealed that more asylum applications were submitted in 2021 compared to the corresponding time in 2020.

According to a press release from the authority, the number of asylum seekers in EU member states has increased by a third, representing 617,800 applications, reports.

These numbers are similar to pre-pandemic levels, from 2017 to 2019, but with special demand in repeat applications, which have posted the highest rates since 2014.

Asylum claims soar in 2021 – 34% more asylum applications were submitted by asylum seekers than in 2020

EUAA data shows that the number of applications from third-country immigrants for international protection reached 617,778 – nearly 34 per cent more than in 2020 when 461,272 applications were lodged. In addition, the number of first-time applications also rose, jumping from 410,327 to 527,408, a 29 percent increase from 2020.

However, the number of recurring apps faded in 2021, a 75 percent increase from 2020, rising from 50,945 to 89,114. In addition, the number of unknown apps also increased, from not being registered in 2020 to 1,256 in 2021.

Although the number of asylum applications is still below pre-pandemic levels, for example, in 2019, when 671,189 applications were submitted, the data shows a trend on the rise. EU member states experienced one of the most severe migration crises in 2015 when the number of international protection applications peaked at 1,315,466.

The majority of refugees registered in 2021 came from the Middle East and Asia

While Afghan nationals have submitted the most applications for international protection in recent months, 97,800 of these Syrians still represent the largest group of applicants for 2021, with 106,000 applications, nearly two-thirds more than in 2020.

Applicants from other countries to apply for asylum over 2020 are Iraqis (28,700), Pakistanis (24,600), Turks (23,700) and Bangladeshis (20,000). Arrivals from countries such as Somalia, Nigeria, Morocco and the rest of Africa also saw an increase compared to 2020, accounting for 2.6, 2.5 and 2.4 percent of all applications reported in 2021.

While Syrians and Afghans make up 33 percent of all applications, 41 percent of the remaining applications were submitted from other countries, with a notable increase in Belarusian applicants, who tripled their applications and North Macedonia registered a fourfold increase.

In contrast, asylum applications from Venezuelans, Colombians and other Latin Americans fell compared to 2020.

In 2021, far fewer Latin Americans applied for asylum in the EU+, in sharp contrast to the many illegal immigrants from Latin America the United States has encountered. In EU+ countries, the main groups of applicants from Latin America were Venezuelans (about 17,700) and Colombians (13,800), followed by Haitians, Peruvians, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Cubans and Nicaraguans,” the EUAA report reveals.

Another anomaly observed in 2021 is the number of unaccompanied minors, which almost reached levels of 2016 – the year the EU’s Great Migration Crisis occurred. About 27,300 applications for international protection were filed by unaccompanied minors – the highest rate in the past three years and just 2,000 fewer applications than in 2016.

Nearly half of all unaccompanied minors were Afghans (13,000, the most since 2015), followed by Syrians, Somalis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. The report notes that one in every 23 EU asylum seekers + claimed to be an unaccompanied minor (four percent of the total).

EU member states passed 523,00 decisions in 2021, the highest rates since 2017

The total number of outgoing orders rose slightly from 2020 levels, about 2,000 more. However, the number of applications was higher than the decisions issued by about 95,000 applications. As a result, the number of cases pending in the first degree has increased in the past months to about 442,500, and half of these cases are pending for less than six months.

In addition, out of a total of 523,023 Trial decisions, 342,563 received negative decisions – representing 65.4 percent of all decisions. Furthermore, 117,489 were granted refugee status and 62,971 were granted secondary status.

In conclusion, the EU+ recognition rate of refugee status and subsidiary protection increased to 35 per cent in 2021. This was influenced by Afghan nationals, whose recognition rate rose clearly – from 53 per cent in 2020 to 66 per cent in 2021, Temporarily exceeding 90 percent last October and November.

More specifically, 442,500 cases were pending in primary at the end of 2021, of which 10,477 were pending for an unknown period, and 212,674 were pending for more than six months. However, most cases are pending for less than six months, around 218,935 – which is half of all pending cases.

The number of pending cases increased significantly, particularly those pending for an unknown duration, from 2,276 in 2020 to 10,477 – an increase of nearly 22 percent.

Positive rates of asylum applications were higher for Eritreans (81 percent), Yemenis (79 percent), Belarusians (75 percent) and Syrians (72 percent). Nearly two-thirds of the beneficiaries of the affirmative decision received refugee status in 2021, with the rest receiving subsidiary protection.

Earlier, the European Economic Area revealed that the largest number of asylum applications in the past five years was registered in November of 2021, with 71,400 applications submitted in one month.

As mentioned earlier, Syrians and Afghans were the two largest nationalities that filed the most international protection applications. More specifically, Afghans have submitted the second largest number of applications since 2016 – 13,000 of them, followed by Syrians (11,500) and Iraqis (4,300).

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