The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) published a report stating that the number of asylum applications filed across the EU in November 2021 was the second highest for the last five years. The security situation in Afghanistan was the main cause for the increase.
The EUAA said that following the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the number of asylum applications lodged by Afghan nationals remained at the top of the current list. In previous years, Syrian nationals had been the largest group of applicants since 2016.
In absolute numbers, about 71,400 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU in November 2021 alone -- a number that is 9% up from the previous month.
In September 2021, applications had peaked the most for the past five year, mainly due to the many asylum applications linked to evacuation flights from Kabul following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The high level of applications filed in November, which almost matched the record numbers reported in September, also reflected an increase in applications from Afghans, but also marked an increase for several other main nationalities.
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Afghan refugees at top the charts
The report specified that Afghans had lodged the second-most applications since 2016, with about 13,000 asylum cases opened. This number reportedly is significantly higher than asylum applications filed in October but fewer than there were in September.
According to the EUAA report, Afghans remained the largest group of asylum applicants, followed by Syrians (with 11,500 applications). The document also highlighted the fact that the number of Syrian applicants was the highest since 2016, which marked the tail-end of the so-called refugee crisis.
Representing the third largest group of applicants, some 4,300 Iraqis also applied for asylum across the EU in November, marking a 30% from the previous month.
Other noteworthy increases in asylum applications were also observed for Venezuelan nationals (3,300), Pakistanis (2,800) and Colombians (2,500).
One in 20 asylum seekers reportedly underage
The report also found that in recent months, the number asylum applicants in the EU filed by self-declared unaccompanied minors was also on the increase. This demographic reportedly lodged more than 3,300 applications in October -- the most since 2015. The number for November 2021 was only slightly lower, with some 3,200 self-reported unaccompanied minors applying for asylum across the EU.
Around half of all unaccompanied minors came from Afghanistan, according to the EUAA paper, followed by Syrians, Somalis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. In November, unaccompanied minors made up 5% of all applicants in the EU.
The EUAA paper said that asylum authorities in the EU countries issued only about 45,500 first instance decisions in November 2021, remaining at roughly the same rate as number issued for October.
However, for the fifth consecutive month in 2021, asylum application numbers continued to considerably exceed first instance decisions issued in EU member states. The report said that there is no indication that this application backlog situation might improve.
This has directly led to the number of cases pending at the first instance level increasing in recent months to about 431,000 by the end of November. Barely more than half those asylum cases have reportedly been pending in limbo for less than six months, with many applicants still not knowing the initial outcome of their applications for more than half a years.
According to the EUAA report, the overall recognition rate of asylum applications in the EU was at 40% in November -- the second highest in the preceding 19 months, and superseded only in September 2021, when the recognition rate reached 41%.
Many recognized as refugees
However, almost three quarters of all positive decisions handed down in November resulted in refugee status, while the rest of the applicants were granted subsidiary protection. This is an atypically high share, EUAA said. This recognition rate was led by Afghan nationals, 92% of whom were granted refugee status.
According to the document, recognition rates were also relatively high for Syrian applicants (91%), Eritreans (87%) and Palestinians (72%).