Requests for asylum in Europe have gone back to their levels before the 2015 migrant crisis, while applicants’ chances of success have also gone down, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) says in its latest annual review, published on Thursday. In 2018, 634,700 persons filed applications for asylum in European countries (the EU, Switzerland and Norway). This was 10% lower than in 2017 and the third annual decline after the unprecedented influx linked to the 2015 migrant crisis. Last year’s tally was comparable to the 641,000 applications recorded in 2014.
Syrians were the largest group of applicants, making up 74,800 of the cases registered, followed by Afghans (45,300) and Iraqis (42,100). The three nationalities represented a quarter of last year’s total caseload.
However, there was a significant increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking refuge in Europe from the severe political crisis in their country. Asylum requests from Venezuelans doubled to 22,000, making them the 8th largest group.
Iranians (5th) submitted 25,000 requests, with a huge increase in the second half of the year due largely to the suspension of the visa obligation between September 2017 and October 2018 by Serbia, a gateway to an EU country.
EASO said 593,000 first-instance decisions were issued last year, 40% fewer than in 2017.
Asylum was granted to 34% of first-instance applicants, who were awarded either refugee status or subsidiary protection. This rate was 6% lower than in 2017.
Approval rates vary widely according to applicants’ nationalities, ranging from 87% for Syrians and Yemenis and 82% for Eritreans, to 4% for Gambians and 5% for Senegalese.
Asylum chances also depended on the countries where the applications were filed, ranging from 6% to 98% for Afghans, from 8% to 98% for Iraqis, from 27% to 100% for Syrians and from 1% to 10% for Albanians.