Latest Asylum Trends

Latest asylum trends – July 2021

The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 25 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. Note that the visualization below includes data for the United Kingdom (30 EU+ countries) until the end of 2019, whereas it excludes data for the United Kingdom as of January 2020 (29 EU+ countries).

Reference month:   Citizenship:   

 
 
 
 
 

© EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union.1
 
Source: EASO EPS, July 2019 – July 2021.

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. 

EU+ refers to the 27 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland. However, until the end of 2019 data for the EU+ include also the United Kingdom.

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 at 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

  • About 50 000 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+ in July 2021, significantly more than in June and the most since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Total applications approached pre-pandemic levels in July, corresponding to more than 80 % of the level in February 2020 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Applications increased for a range of nationalities. This might suggest that COVID-19 induced constraints on asylum-related migration have lately had a weaker impact.
  • Applications by Afghans increased for the fifth consecutive month, to about 7 300 in July. This was the most since February 2020 and twice the level in February 2021. 
  • While Syrians remained the largest applicant group in July, the gap between Afghans and Syrians has been shrinking since December 2020.
  • After Syrians and Afghans, Turks were the third largest group in July, as their applications rose by half from June. Increasing applications by Iraqis were partly due to the irregular migration route via Belarus.
  • While citizens of several Eastern Partnership and Western Balkan countries applied in larger numbers, applications by many North and West Africans receded from peak values.
  • Applications by self-claimed unaccompanied minors represented 4 % of the total in the EU+. Half of the unaccompanied minors applying in July were Afghans.
  • Asylum authorities in EU+ countries issued at least 35 100 first instance decisions in July, fewer than the number of applications lodged. A third of all decisions were issued to Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis.
  • Based on preliminary data, the EU+ recognition rate was 39 % in July. Three fifths of all positive decisions granted refugee status, while the remainder granted subsidiary protection. 
  • Among the nationalities receiving the most decisions, recognition rates were the highest for Syrians (87 %), Eritreans (81 %), Palestinians (69 %) and Somalis (58 %). At 45 %, the recognition rate for Afghans was substantially lower than over the previous six months. 
  • Across all instances, about 790 500 cases were pending in the EU+ at the end of June. 
  • Some 366 300 cases were pending at first instance at the end of July, stable from June. Three out of five cases had been pending at first instance for more than six months.
 

 

Asylum applications in the EU+ approaching pre-COVID-19 levels

Applications for international protection in the EU+ have continued to increase: in July 2021, EU+ countries received about 50 000 asylum applications.2  After applications had risen substantially in June (+ 22 % from May), the still significant growth in July (+ 8 % from June) was the second highest increase in the past 12 months. In the last two months, the level of applications has clearly departed from the stable situation that had prevailed for almost a year, when around 40 000 applications were lodged every month.    

In July, the most applications were lodged since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. They corresponded to more than 80 % of the number in February 2020, the last month when applications were unaffected by the pandemic. Hence, total applications in July were approaching pre-pandemic levels for the first time. As in June, the overall increase in July reflected higher numbers for a broad range of nationalities. This suggests that COVID-19-induced constraints on asylum-related migration have recently had a weaker impact. The remaining total “gap” in comparison with February 2020 largely reflects the longer-term decline in applications by Latin Americans: the drop for Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians, Hondurans, Salvadorians and Nicaraguans (- 11 700 applications altogether) fully accounted for the remaining total gap (- 11 500).

Applications by Afghans approaching those of Syrians

The overall increase was mainly driven by some of the most frequent nationalities of applicants. Syrians remained the largest group of applicants in July, lodging some 8 500 applications, up by 14 % from June. Afghans lodged about 7 300 applications (+ 21 % from June). Applications by Afghans increased for the fifth consecutive month: since February, they have almost doubled (see country focus). By July, their level corresponded to 86 % of the level of Syrian applications, and the gap between Afghans and Syrians has been shrinking almost steadily since December 2020.

Albeit at levels far behind Syrians and Afghans, several other main nationalities likewise continued to apply in rising numbers. Turks were the third largest group in July with about 2 500 applications, an increase by half over the level in June (see country focus). They were followed by Pakistanis (2 300 applications in July), Iraqis (2 300), Bangladeshis (1 900), Somalis (1 700), Moroccans (1 500), Nigerians and Georgians (1 300 each). Applications by Bangladeshis, Iraqis, Somalis and Georgians all rose substantially compared with June (although less than for Turks), continuing the rising trends for each of these nationalities. The increase for Iraqis (see country focus) was partially due to the relatively new irregular migration route via Belarus.

Like in the case of Georgia, citizens of several further Eastern Partnership and some Western Balkan countries lodged more applications: Albanians (980, up by 56 % from June), Moldovans (880, + 74 %), Kosovars (200, + 12 %), nationals of North Macedonia (180, + 117 %) and Armenians (170, + 11 %). A large increase also occurred for Belarusians (390, + 54 %). In contrast, citizens of some countries in West and North Africa lodged fewer applications in July. This included Moroccans, whose applications declined by nearly a quarter after a peak in June. Fewer applications were also received from Guineans, Algerians, Ivorians, Egyptians, Malians, Senegalese, Gambians and Ghanaians, often after peak values in May or June. The decline was especially large for Malians (570 vs 1 000 in June).

Half of all unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan  

Self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) lodged 2 200 applications in July 2021, the highest number since November 2016. This represented 5 % of all asylum applications that EU+ countries received in July. Afghan UAMs contributed disproportionately to the rise in UAMs, lodging close to 1 200 applications in July, up by 15 % from June and accounting for one in six Afghan applications. At a lower level, the numbers of UAMs from Syria (316) and Somalia (216) have also grown, by 56 % and 77 %, respectively. Among Somalis, UAMs accounted for a rising share: by July, one in eight Somali applications was lodged by a UAM. In contrast, only 4 % of Syrian applications were lodged by UAMs.

 

Focus on selected countries of origin of applicants

Afghanistan – In almost every month since at least 2014, Afghans were one of the three largest groups of asylum applicants in the EU+. During the migration crisis in 2015/2016 and from mid-2018 onwards, they have typically been the second largest group after Syrians. In July 2021, Afghans lodged some 7 300 asylum applications, accounting for 15 % of the EU+ total. This was the highest number of applications lodged by Afghans since October 2016, surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels3 by 13 % and almost twice the level at the beginning of the year.

In July, Afghan applicants included close to 1 200 self-claimed UAMs, increasing by 15 % from the level in June (just over 1 000). While the number of Afghan UAMs has fluctuated considerably, the level in July was the highest in over five years (since January 2016). Prior to the pandemic, Afghans represented under 30 % of all UAMs applying in EU+ countries. In April, June and July 2021, Afghans made up half of all UAMs.

EU+ countries issued 4 400 decisions on Afghans in July, more than in every month since December 2020 but clearly below the number of applications.4 Still the backlog of cases at first instance (about 43 020 at the end of July) was roughly stable in recent months. Of the first instance decisions issued to Afghans in July, 45 % were positive, the lowest recognition rate in over a year (since May 2020). Most of those receiving a positive decision were granted subsidiary protection (57 %) rather than refugee status (43 %).


Turkey – In every month since mid-2018, Turks have been one of the 10 main nationalities of applicants for asylum in the EU+. In July 2021, Turks were the third largest applicant group for the first time since at least 2014, after Syrians and Afghans. This reflected a sudden increase: after a stable level of some 1 100 – 1 200 applications from December 2020 to May 2021, Turks lodged 1 600 applications in June and close to 2 500 in July, the most since October 2019. The doubling of Turkish applications within two months was entirely driven by first-time applications, while repeated applications have been stable. Throughout recent months, less than 1 % of all Turkish applicants were self-claimed UAMs.

About 1 700 first instance decisions were issued to Turks in July, up by 11 % from June but clearly below the level of applications. So far in 2021, the recognition rate for Turkish applicants has been 40 %, and nine in 10 positive decisions granted refugee status. At the end of July, some 13 400 Turkish cases were pending at first instance, slightly more than in June (+ 5 %) but fewer than at the beginning of the year.


Iraq – With some 11 288 applications so far in 2021, Iraqis were among the top 10 nationalities applying for asylum in the EU+. In July, Iraqis lodged almost 2 300 applications for international protection, up by nearly a quarter from June and the highest number since January 2020. This peak follows a six-month period in which applications fluctuated between 1 300 and 1 800. As in previous months, the share of Iraqi applications lodged by self-claimed UAMs remained very low, at less than 2 % in July. About 16 % of all Iraqi applications in July were repeated.

Decision making on Iraqi applications has dropped since late 2020. Some 1 700 decisions were issued in February and March 2021 each, falling to some 1 400 in July, which was below pre-COVID-19 levels5 by nearly two-fifths. So far in 2021, the first instance recognition rate for Iraqis was 38 %, slightly lower than the recognition rates recorded in previous years (41 % in 2020 and 42 % in 2019). At least 13 900 cases of Iraqi applicants were pending at first instance at the end of July 2021, down from 14 700 at the end of 2020.

 


More applications than decisions at first instance  

At least 35 100 first instance decisions were issued by EU+ asylum authorities in July 2021, based on decisions reported by 26 EU+ countries. The total number of decisions for the reporting countries was slightly lower than in June. As total applications in these countries have grown strongly, first instance decisions in July were outnumbered by applications. 

Already for several months, Afghans have lodged more applications than the decisions issued to this nationality (about 4 400 in July). Syrians received fewer decisions in July (5 900), down by 8 % from June. Decisions on Pakistani applications have risen almost continuously in recent months, exceeding 1 900 in July, which was not far below the number of new applications (2 100). Together, Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis accounted for 35 % of all first instance decisions issued in July. Turks received the most decisions so far this year (1 700).

Recognition rate for Afghans only about half as high as for Syrians 

Based on preliminary data,6 the EU+ recognition rate was 39 % in July 2021. This is relatively high compared to the months before June but would likely be lower if complete data were available. For the EU+ recognition rate, only decisions that granted refugee status and subsidiary protection are considered positive, in contrast to decisions granting humanitarian protection under national law. About three fifths of all positive decisions in June granted refugee status, while the remainder granted subsidiary protection

Among nationalities receiving at least 200 decisions in July, recognition rates were the highest for Syrians (87 %), Eritreans (81 %), Palestinians (69 %) and Somalis (58 %). At 45 %, the recognition rate for Afghans was substantially lower in July than over the previous six months (54 %), and similar to the recognition rates for Turks (46 %) and Iraqis (44 %). While large majorities of the positive decisions issued to Turks, Iraqis, Somalis and Eritreans granted refugee status, this share was only about half in the case of Syrians and 43 % in the case of Afghans (the other half granting subsidiary protection). Recognition rates were low for many nationalities, including some of the main nationalities: Nigerian (11 %), Pakistani (9 %), Bangladeshi (5 %) and Georgian (4 %).

Stable backlog at first instance

Based on the latest available data (June 2021), about 790 500 cases were pending at all instances7 in the EU+. For the first time in six months, this level was not lower than in the preceding month, disrupting the downward trend that pending cases have exhibited for more than a year. At the end of June 2020, some 933 700 cases had been awaiting a decision. Since then, EU+ countries have reduced the backlog by 15 %, despite the COVID-19 challenges. Cases pending at first instance – those that are still being processed by asylum authorities, not including those that are open in appeal or review (second and higher instances) – fell by about 65 000 between June 2020 and June 2021, declining at the same rate as total pending cases.8  

At the end of July 2021, about 366 300 cases were still pending at first instance,9 essentially stable from June. Compared to previous years, this backlog at first instance was lower. Cases pending for more than six months accounted for three out of five first instance cases at the end of July 2021, a somewhat lower share than in previous months. About 30 % of all cases still pending at first instance concerned Syrians or Afghans. The other main nationalities each accounted for between 3 % and 5 % of all cases at first instance at the end of July, except for lower shares for Moroccans and Georgians. While not among the 10 main nationalities in July, Eritreans accounted for another 5 %.  

 

This page is produced by EASO’s Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) 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 (EU) 2020/851 amending Regulation (EC) 862/2007). In line with the dissemination guide on EPS data, EASO cannot publish data disaggregated per EU+ country.

Date of release: 16 September 2021



Notes
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[1] The designation "Kosovo" is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence".
[2]  For three EU+ countries with missing data for July 2021, the numbers were estimated, and likewise for one EU+ country with missing data for June 2021. All values larger than 100 are rounded.
[3]  Average of monthly applications between September 2019 and February 2020.
[4] Data on three EU+ countries were missing for July 2021. Changes over time are calculated by excluding the same countries also from earlier figures.
[5] Average between September 2019 and February 2020.
[6] Data on three EU+ countries were missing for July 2021. Changes over time are calculated by excluding the same countries also from earlier figures.
[7] Eurostat data on pending cases at all instances in June 2021 were available for 27 EU+ countries; May values were used for the missing country. EASO EPS data on pending cases at first instance were available for 28 EU+ countries in June 2021.  

[8]  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). In some cases, EPS data on pending cases in appeal/review might be used instead.
[9] This total for cases pending at first instance uses June/May values for three EU+ countries where July data were unavailable. Based only on the 26 EU+ countries reporting in July, the number was 300 600.