EU received 31% fewer asylum applications due to pandemic
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EU received 31% fewer asylum applications due to pandemic

Credit: European Parliament / Flickr

Due to the pandemic, the EU received 31% fewer asylum applications since the start of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Asylum applications are expected to remain low in the coming months with the “recent return of restrictive measures” when it comes to travelling, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) stated on Wednesday.

Applications declined strongly in the beginning of 2020. During the height of the pandemic, the number of applications was “significantly below pre-COVID levels”.

In January, 65,692 people applied for asylum. In August, 40,000 asylum applications were registered, which is a decline of 40%.

Numbers went up slightly in July when travel restrictions were eased, resulting in the lodging of 43,000 applications.

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“This indicates that reduced mobility and pandemic emergency measures are still affecting the number of applications being lodged with national asylum authorities,” the EASO stated.

Overall, most applications were filed by people originating from Syria and Afghanistan, followed by applicants from Venezuela and Colombia.

At the beginning of the lockdown, on 17 March 2020, the Belgian Immigration Office closed down its arrival centre for asylum seekers, effectively blocking any new asylum applications. The office was reopened on 4 April.

Since April, anyone who has applied for asylum in Belgium has been tested for Covid-19. It is unclear what impact the pandemic has had on the number of asylum applications in Belgium.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times