Latest Asylum Trends

August 2019

The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 24 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries, the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first-instance (blue - high, red - low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.

Reference month:   Citizenship:   

 
 
 
 
 

Source: EASO EPS, August 2017 – August 2019.

Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member in the reporting country during the reporting month. 

First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.

Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions in first instance are still pending.

The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.

 

Key findings

  • So far in 2019, some 456 000 applications for asylum have been lodged in the EU+, up by 10% compared to last year. Following a peak in July, applications were reduced in August (55 400) but remained more or less in line with earlier in the year.
  • Syrians, Afghans and Venezuelans continued to lodge the most applications, accounting for a quarter of all applications.
  • So far this year, the majority of citizenships among the top 30 lodged more applications than a year ago.
  • In August, the output of first-instance authorities (about 46 000) returned to the levels of most other months in 2019, after record numbers in July. However, there was a sharp increase in the number of decisions issued to some Latin American citizenships over the past summer.
  • Overall, the EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued at first instance in the past six months was 34% - with applicants from Syria (85%), Yemen (83%) and Eritrea (82%) having the highest EU-regulated recognition rate.
  • At the end of August 2019, some 900 000 cases were estimated to be still open and awaiting decisions: around half of these (471 200) were pending at first instance (up by 15 000 from July and the highest level since December 2017) while the other half were estimated to be still open in appeal. Venezuelans, Colombians and Afghans, all lodged far more applications than they received decisions at first instance and so the number of pending cases for these nationalities increased.

 

Asylum applications in 2019 still increased compared to last year

So far in 2019 more applications have been lodged compared to last year: between January and August 2019 more than 456 000 applications have been lodged in the EU+, up by 10% compared the same period in 2018. In August around 55 400 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+,1 down by 12% from July, but broadly in line with most other months so far this year. Note that in July more applications were lodged since mid-2017, and so a decrease going into August was somewhat expected.    

Syrians, Afghans and Venezuelans continued to lodge the most applications, but in lower numbers than a month earlier, in particular Venezuelans (- 22%) (see more in the box below). Jointly, these three citizenships lodged a quarter of all applications in the EU+. 

Turkey, Iraq, Colombia, Pakistan, Iran, Albania and Nigeria completed the list of the top 10 countries of origin of applicants. With the exception of Turks and Iranians, for whom applications were stable, all these citizenship groups lodged fewer applications than a month earlier. This was true for the vast majority of citizenships in the top 30. The largest drops occurred for nationals of Sudan (- 31%), Honduras (- 30%) and Peru (- 27%). Despite lodging fewer applications than in July, some nationalities nonetheless sought asylum at levels considerably higher than in most other months in 2019, as was the case for Syrians, Afghans, Turks, and Somalis. Conversely, a few citizenships lodged more applications than July, but the increase was much more modest in absolute terms: these were Moldovans (+ 12%), Algerians and Russians (+ 9% each).

Notwithstanding these short term fluctuations, the most of the top citizenships lodged more applications so far in 2019 (January-August) compared to the same period a year ago. As previously highlighted, Latin-Americans have already lodged more applications this year than in the whole of 2018 (Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras), or even more than that (Nicaragua). Other citizenships lodging more applications include: Chinese (+ 42% from January-August 2018), Indians (+ 29%), Georgians (+ 27%) and Afghans (+ 21%), among several others. In sharp contrast, a few nationalities were applying for asylum less frequently than in the same period of 2018, such as Eritreans (- 26%), Sudanese (- 20%) and – even more noticeably in absolute terms – Iraqis (- 15%) and Syrians (- 11%).

Visa-exempt third country nationals continued to account for about a quarter of applications lodged in the EU+. In line with the overall decrease, nationals from visa-liberalised countries lodged fewer applications (12 900) in August, the fewest so far this year; the decrease was more or less evenly distributed across most VLCs. As has been the case so far in 2019, in August the majority (58%) of these applicants were nationals of countries located in Latin America, but their share has been decreasing for a third consecutive month (it was 63% in May).

Some 3% of all applications were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) in August.2 Most self-claimed UAMs were nationals of Afghanistan, followed at large distance by Syrians, Somalis, Pakistanis and Moroccans. The number of UAMs among Afghan applicants increased over the past few months. For citizenships lodging at least 1 000 total applications between January and August 2019, the largest concentration of UAMs was observed among nationals of Vietnam (12% out of all Vietnamese applicants), who preceded Afghans (9%), Sudanese and Eritreans (8% each).

Finally, repeated applications – who previously lodged an application in the same EU+ country – accounted for 8% of all applications lodged in the EU+ in August 2019, lower than in most other months so far this year, and in line with June 2019. The proportion of repeats out of all applicants has thus been decreasing over the past months, since it stood at 10% in 2018, as well as in the beginning of 2019. So far in 2019, the share of repeated applicants was particularly high among nationals of North Macedonia, Serbia (one in three applicants each), Kosovo, The Gambia (one in four applicants each) and Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia (approximately one in five each).

 
 

Focus on the main countries of origin of applicants

Syria - In August, Syrian nationals lodged some 6 200 asylum applications, the second highest level since the end of 2018, and down by just 6% from July. Syrian nationals also lodged some 45 000 applications since January 2019, or one every 10 applications lodged in the EU+. Despite being the main country of origin of applicants uninterruptedly since – at least – January 2014, the share of repeated applications remained relatively low, and stood at 5% in the period January-August 2019. Five EU+ countries received three quarters of all Syrian applications so far this year.   

Syrian applicants received about 6 500 first-instance decisions in August, twice as many as any other citizenships. However, the output for Syrians decreased by 15% from the previous month. So far this year, Syrian applicants received about 52 400 first-instance decisions in the EU+, more than three-quarters of which were issued in just three EU+ countries. This overall output is broadly in line with that registered in the same period in 2018, counteracting the overall decrease in first-instance decision-making in the EU+.

At the EU+ level, each month in 2019 there were more case closures (either because a decision was issued or the application was discontinued after withdrawal or otherwise closed) than applications lodged by Syrian nationals. Accordingly, the number of applicants awaiting a decision at first instance decreased almost uninterruptedly – although slightly – throughout the first 8 months of 2019, and stood at about 43 500 at the end of August. More than two-thirds of Syrian cases were pending in just three EU+ countries.

The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months (March-August 2019) was 85%, down by four percentage points from the previous semester (September 2018-February 2019). 

Afghanistan - In August, Afghan nationals lodged more than 4 900 applications, similar to July (- 3%), which was the highest number registered so far this year; thus, asylum trends associated to Afghan nationals remained sizeable, also as a result of increased irregular migration along the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkan routes.3 Cumulative trends for the period January-August 2019 show that Afghan nationals lodged about 33 500 applications (+ 21% from the same period a year earlier); this was the third largest increase in absolute terms (+ 5 755), following only Venezuelans and Colombians. So far in 2019, eight in 10 Afghan applications were lodged in five EU+ countries. Afghanistan is steadily the country of origin of most self-claimed UAMs applying for asylum in the EU+: one in four so far in 2019. These were quite unevenly distributed across the EU+, in that they accounted for a considerable proportion of applications by Afghans – up to more than a half – in some EU+ countries.

In July, Afghan applicants received more than 2 900 decisions at first instance, in line with July. However, the overall output for January-August 2019 amounted to some 23 450 first-instance decisions, lagging greatly behind (- 46%) that for the same period of 2018. With other types of cases closures (such as otherwise closures or application withdrawals) remaining stable, inflows (applications lodged) continued to outnumber outflows (case closures). As a result, the number of applicants still awaiting a decision at first instance rose to over 37 600 at the end of August, up by 18% from January. Eight out of 10 cases were pending in four EU+ countries.     

 The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months remained stable at 49%.

Venezuela – Venezuelan nationals lodged almost 3 000 applications in August (- 22% from July), highlighting the largest absolute decrease among all citizenships compared to a month earlier. In contrast, they were still associated with the largest absolute increase so far in 2019, having already sought asylum in numbers larger than in the whole of 2018, and still in a very limited number of EU+ countries.

First-instance output for Venezuelan applicants greatly increased in recent months. Although the 3 200 decisions issued in August implied a large decrease from July (- 42%), they nearly equalled the number of decisions for the whole of 2018 (3 350). Between January and August 2019 Venezuelan nationals received already 12 700 first-instance decisions, five times as many as a year earlier. Other types of case closures remained limited compared to the overall number of Venezuelan applications awaiting a decision at first instance, reaching some 42 300 at the end of August; fewer than in July (- 6%) but far more than at the end of January 2019 (+ 30%).

The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months to Venezuelans was 9%, considerably lower than in the previous six months (48%). It must be noted that this recognition rate does not include permits to stay for humanitarian reasons under national law concerning international protection (i.e. humanitarian protection), which are granted automatically to Venezuelan nationals in some EU+ countries.

 


First-instance output in line with most months of 2019 

In August, the number of first-instance decisions issued in the EU+ decreased to about 46 000 decisions, in line with the output registered in most months of 2019, but down by 10% from July.4 In fact, in August most EU+ countries issued fewer first-instance decisions than a month ago, with limited exceptions. Nevertheless, so far this year the overall output of EU+ first-instance authorities is still lagging behind last year’s. About three quarters of all decisions continued to be issued in just four EU+ countries. 

Similar to what was observed with regard to asylum applications, most citizenships received fewer first-instance decisions than in July. Syrian applicants received the most decisions in August, and twice as many as any other citizenship (- 15%). Despite being subject to the largest decrease in the number of decisions received (- 42%), Venezuelan nationals featured among the top five countries with most first-instance decisions for a second consecutive month, receiving about a hundred more than Afghans. It is informative to mention that the number of decisions they received in August (about 3 200) almost equals the total number of decisions issued to Venezuelans in the whole of 2018 (3 350). Iraqis received a number of decisions similar to that for Afghans, followed at a distance by Nigerians. Looking at cumulative trends for 2019 (January-August), there was a noticeable rise in the output at first-instance for Venezuelans (receiving five times as many decisions as in the same period in 2018), Salvadorians (for whom it almost tripled), and Colombians (more than doubled). Large increases were also evident for Palestinians (+ 72%), Georgians and Moroccans (+ 29% each). At the other side of the spectrum, Afghans received far fewer decisions (- 20 300 or - 46%); to a much lesser extent, this was true also for Iraqis (- 5 900 or - 20%), Gambians (- 3 100 or - 40%) and Somalis (- 2 800 or - 27%).

It is also informative to examine the number of first-instance decisions vis-à-vis asylum applications lodged by specific citizenships. For data covering the period January-August 2019, very large gaps were noticed for Venezuelans, Colombians and Afghans, all lodging far more applications than they received decisions at first instance. As a result, the number of pending cases for these nationalities was subject to a rise. The opposite was true for Syrians and, to a lesser extent, Nigerians and Gambians, all receiving more decisions that they applied for asylum; however, for these citizenships the discrepancy between the two indicators was much more modest in absolute terms. 


One in four decisions granting refugee status

The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued at first instance in August was 33%, down by two percentage points from July.5 The recognition rate for decisions issued over the past six months (March-August 2019) was 34%, whereas it stood at 36% in the previous semester (September 2018-February 2019). Out of all positive decisions issued between March and August 2019, the large majority granted refugee status (70%), and the remainder subsidiary protection (30%). 

Among the citizenships with at least 1 000 decisions issued in the past six months, applicants from Syria (85%), Yemen (83%) and Eritrea (82%) had the highest EU-regulated recognition rate, followed at a distance by applicants from Sudan (67%) and stateless applicants (64%). On the other hand, applicants from Moldova (0.7%), North Macedonia (2%), Georgia (4%) and India (3%) had the lowest. With regard to recognition rate variation, increases were most evident for Sudanese (67%, + 8 p.p.) and, to a lesser extent, Cameroonians (30%, + 4 p.p.) and Ivoirians (18%, + 4 p.p.). A vast decrease concerned Palestinian applicants (by 25 percentage points to 48%), followed by Yemenis (83%, - 8 p.p.) and Salvadorians  (39%, - 8 p.p.).


Considerably more cases pending at first instance than a month earlier

Pending cases are an important measure of the workload that national asylum authorities face, as well as of the pressure on the national reception systems. At the end of August 2019 there were some 471 200 applications awaiting a decision in first instance in the EU+,6 a large increase – by about 15 000 cases – from July. However, the extent of this month-to-month increase was partly due to technical revisions in the number of cases pending for some citizenships – Colombians in particular. Importantly, the number of pending cases is currently higher than at the beginning of 2019, and comparable to that registered at the end of 2017. At the end of August, almost three quarters of the decision-making backlog at first instance were pending in just five EU+ countries. In addition, a similar number of applications were awaiting a decision in appeal or review at the end of June 2019, implying that a considerable part of the open cases has been transferred from asylum authorities to judicial bodies.7

At the end of August, the number of cases pending for Venezuelans decreased noticeably – by about 2 800 cases – such that Syria returned to be the country with most pending cases in the EU+. The stocks for these two citizenships were very similar, with each accounting for about 9 % of all pending cases. Decreases, although more modest than for Venezuelans, were noticed also for Nigerians (- 700 cases) and Eritreans (- 400 cases). Conversely, large increases were registered for Afghans (+ 1 400) and several Latin-American citizenships, in particular Colombians (+ 6 900), followed by Hondurans (+ 1 800), Nicaraguans (+ 1 700) and Salvadorians (+ 1 000). 

Slightly more than a half of all cases at first-instance were pending for longer than six months, but with considerable variation across the EU+, in that the share of older cases was higher in some countries. In terms of the main citizenships of origin, cases involving applicants from Palestine and Ukraine (for each of whom two thirds of the applications were awaiting a decision for more than six months), Honduras, Sri Lanka and Cameroon (60% each) were pending for longer.

 

This page is produced by EASO’s Information and Analysis Unit (IAU) on the basis of monthly data exchanged under the Early Warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with EASO by the EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated, and therefore may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat (according to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007). In line with the dissemination guide on EPS data, EASO cannot publish data disaggregated per EU+ country.

Date of release: 7 October 2019



Notes
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[1] The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Monthly data for August were available for 28 EU+ countries.
[2] Claimed UAM represent the asylum applicants claiming to be below the age of 18 years rather than those assessed to be such after an age assessment has been carried out. Some EU+ countries have difficulties reporting on claimed UAM in the framework of the EPS data exchange. These figures should therefore be considered as underestimations of the actual proportion of claimed UAM. 
[3] Frontex, Detections of illegal-border crossing statistics, last updated on 4 September 2019.
[4] First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process. Data on first-instance decisions were available for 28 EU+ countries.  
[5] The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
[6] Data on cases pending at first instance are available for 29 EU+ countries; in August, data were available for 27 EU+ countries. 
[7] An indication of the cases pending at second and higher instances (i.e. in appeal or review) may be drawn by comparing the number of cases awaiting a decision at first instance (EPS data), with those pending at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure (Eurostat migr_asypenctzm).