How many people asked for asylum in the European Union? Where did they come from? In what country did they request asylum? Here’s what you need to know about asylum applications in the EU in 2019.
Germany is still the EU country with most asylum applicants
Unsurprisingly, the EU countries that had the largest number of new asylum applicants in 2019 were, for the most part, the most populous countries.
Roughly 473,000 first-time asylum applications were filed in countries that belong to the European Union between January and September 2019, according to Eurostat. (Data for October through December has not yet been made available. If we assume that the number of asylum applications in last quarter of 2019 equals the average number of applications so far, that would mean that 630,000 would have been filed in 2019.)
This number is roughly the same as during the same period in 2018; since a dramatic drop in asylum applications in late 2016, the number of asylum applications in the EU has remained relatively steady, falling only slightly.
Among the six countries with the highest number of applicants were the five most populous EU countries: Germany (roughly 111,000 first-time applicants asked for asylum between January and September), France (87,100), Spain (80,000), the UK (32,000) and Italy (25,000), according to an InfoMigrants data analysis based on Eurostat numbers. The notable exception among the top 6: Greece (which received 47,000 applications).
Malta, Greece saw most asylum applications per capita
There were nine EU countries that saw more than one first-time asylum application for every 1,000 inhabitants between January and September of 2019. These countries are Malta (roughly 5 for every 1,000 inhabitants), Greece (roughly 4 for every 1,000 inhabitants), Luxembourg (2.5), Spain (1.7), Sweden (1.7), Belgium (1.5), Slovenia (1.4), Germany (1.3) and France (1.3).
Greece meanwhile saw a dramatic spike in migrant and refugee arrivals in the second half of 2019. That means that it will likely rank even higher among the states with the most new asylum applicants (both in total and per capita) once data for the fourth quarter of 2019 becomes available.
Greece has long been overwhelmed with the number of asylum applications it receives, and wait times are reportedly extremely long. The Greek government recently introduced a controversial draft bill aimed at speeding up the asylum process.Read more: Outcry against Greece's new asylum law gathers pace
Who were the asylum applicants? Young people; many Syrians, Afghanis, Venezuelans
Among the top countries of origin for asylum seekers according to Eurostat were Syria (54,240 first-time asylum applicants between January and September 2019), Afghanistan (35,235), Venezuela (31,120), Iraq (23,220), Colombia (20,335), Pakistan (18,110), Turkey (18,015), Iran (16,975) and Nigeria (16,295), as well as non-EU European countries Georgia and Albania (just over 15,000 each).
A total of 294.460 asylum applicants were male – that's roughly 62%
The largest age group were those between 18 and 34 years of age (roughly 47%). Roughly 30% were underage (17 or younger), 24% were younger than 14. Roughly 22% were between 35 and 64 years of age. Less than 1% were 65 or older.
Asylum applications from Latin America on the rise, in particular in Spain
The number of Latin Americans – in particular from Venezuelans – who ask for asylum in Europe has increased significantly in the past year. Spain in particular has seen a large number of asylum applicants from the region.
A recent report by Eurostat shows that the top
five countries that have seen the most significant increase in asylum
applications in the third quarter of 2019 – compared to the same period in 2018
– were all Latin American countries: Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela, and
Read more: Eurostat's Asylum quarterly report
One potential reason for this is the fact that traditionally, many people fleeing political regimes or gang violence in Latin America have sought refuge in the US, but the Trump government has made it much more difficult for people to seek asylum in his country.