The picture shows a police officer taking fingerprints of a refugee in the Police Immigration office in Svinesund, Norway: EPA, Archive
The picture shows a police officer taking fingerprints of a refugee in the Police Immigration office in Svinesund, Norway: EPA, Archive

One in two refugees who filed for asylum between 2015 and 2016 in Europe was still waiting for an answer at the end of last year, according to a study published by the Pew Research Center.

According to the study, Italy is the country with the lowest percentage of refugees waiting for their asylum applications to be processed, but in the rest of Europe, over one million applicants between 2015 and 2016 were still in limbo at the end of last year.


The estimate is based on government data, according to which 52 percent of the protagonists of 2.2 million people who arrived in EU countries, Norway and Switzerland until December 31, 2016, did not know whether they would be authorized to remain in Europe or whether they would have to go back home.

Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq were the country of origin of most asylum seekers, constituting over 50 percent of the total. Italy topped list for processed cases For Syrian nationals, Germany was the quickest to process applications - with an average processing time of three months.

Norway was the slowest, with waiting times lasting a year on an average. Italy was the country with the highest percentage of processed applications. By the end of 2016, around 55,000 migrants who had landed on Italian coasts over the two-year period were waiting to learn the outcome of their request out of a total of 185,000 arrivals.

By contrast, in Hungary and Greece, nine out of 10 asylum seekers were still waiting for a response at the end of 2016.

Political pressure among factors affecting waiting period

Various factors had an impact on the timeframe required for the solution of cases, the research said, including the ability of institutions to deal with the high number of requests, the country of origin of applicants and political pressure to accelerate or delay requests.

Public opinion also had an impact, according to a Pew survey conducted last spring.The poll showed that in Greece and Hungary, a great majority of the population (90 percent and 66 percent respectively) disapproved of the way Europe was dealing with the immigration crisis.

In Austria and France, two other nations that were affected by the inflow, about two-thirds of the applicants were still waiting for an answer at the end of last year. Germany rejected the highest number of refugees.

Meanwhile authorities lost track of about 100,000 migrants - or five percent of the total number of refugees - whose applications: some of them could still be in Europe and risk repatriation.
 

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