The European Union has recorded an increase of 54 percent in this year’s asylum seekers and expects this number to rise next year.
Nearly 790,000 asylum applications have been filed in the EU during the first ten months of 2022, an increase of 54 percent compared to the same period in the year before, Nina Gregori, Director of the European Asylum Agency (EUAA), told reporters of Germany’s Funke Media group on December 19.
“Geopolitical developments this year and last year have had a direct impact on the need for international protection and led to increasing displacement to EU countries,” Gregori said.
This number does not include the many Ukrainian refugees, as Ukraine is in the process of becoming a full-fledged member of the Union. Refugees don’t need to apply for asylum under a special “temporary protection” ruling of the EU.
“Instability and threats to human security are a feature of the world we live in. Unfortunately, they are not temporary,” Grigory said.
Germany to take the largest share
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If the trend of rising asylum applications continues — something analysts expect to happen — the number will exceed 973,000 next year. However, the number of refugees is still below those of 2015 and 2016, when the EU received an average of 1.3 million asylum seekers per year.
Whichever scenario plays out, Germany will take the greatest chunk of the influx of refuge seekers as it has done every year since 2012. The central European powerhouse takes more than a fifth of all asylum seekers to the EU, with France coming in second and Hungary last.
Syrians made up the largest group of immigrants to the EU, followed by displaced persons from Afghanistan and Turkey. Germany received nearly 190,000 migrants from January to November this year, according to data from the Federal Office for Immigration (BAMF). BAMF expects this number to rise to just below 230,000 the following year, an increase of 43.2 percent.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago, 4.7 million Ukrainian refugees have found their way to other parts of Europe under temporary protection, with almost 1 million settling in Germany, Gregori told Funke, adding that the European immigration agencies had been “under considerable pressure.”
However, she maintained the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive had prevented a collapse of national asylum systems in the EU.
Gregori said she was happy that the EUAA was endowed with more clout with its founding earlier this year than its predecessor, the EASO, to tackle the inpouring of exiles at a European level.
“Progress on these issues is important,” Gregori said, referring to the pledge EU partners made to have a legislative framework in place by the time of the 2024 European elections after years of fruitless discussions over the matter.
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Looking back at the developments the EUAA has gone through in terms of development, size, and scope, Gregori said that the activities of the organization have literally “exploded.”
By the end of 2022, she boasted the EUAA had signed operational plans with 14 member states, an uptick from just three countries in 2019.
“By the end of the year, our operational support and training services will have resulted in millions of Ukrainians receiving protection wherever they are registered in Europe,” Grigori said. “And, of course, this is in addition to the ongoing support of Member States in their asylum and reception work.”