Fewer people filed for asylum in the European Union in 2017, data published by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles shows. But while some individual nations saw big drops in the number of asylum seekers, others saw a significant increase.
The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has released data concerning asylum claims and their outcome in a dozen EU countries in 2017.
"Despite reports of asylum applications 'dropping off drastically' in the European Union throughout 2017, statistics published by national authorities seem to reveal a more complex picture across the continent," the ECRE said on its website. According to the organization, protection rates strongly vary between countries.
Asylum applications in Europe
Germany remained the leading reception country in the EU, despite witnessing a dramatic decrease in applications registered last year (222,683) compared to the year before (745,545). A significant reduction of asylum applications was also witnessed in Hungary and Bulgaria. Several countries - namely Italy, France, Belgium, Norway and Slovenia - saw a rise in the number of asylum seekers from 2016 to 2017.
Syria was among the top three countries of origin of asylum seekers in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria and Hungary. Afghanistan was among the top three countries of origin in Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia.
Italy and Poland, however, saw neither Syria nor Afghanistan among the top three countries of origin for asylum seekers in 2017. In Italy, the biggest refugee groups came from Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan, while Poland saw the highest numbers of asylum applications from citizens from Russia, Ukraine and Tajikistan. France recorded Albania as the top country of origin.
Italy received 9,473 applications by unaccompanied children, far ahead of other countries such as Austria (1,751), Sweden (1,336), the Netherlands (1,181) and Norway (191).
Discrepancies in protection rates
Substantial drops in overall recognition rates were marked in Germany and Sweden in the course of 2017, even though the main nationalities of persons seeking asylum in those countries remained the same. Conversely, countries including Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Poland had higher recognition rates in 2017 compared to 2016.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan continued to face an 'asylum lottery' as their chances of obtaining a form of protection ranged from 83.1% in France to 30% in Hungary.