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EU asylum applications rise for first time since 2015 wave

EU Asylum Applications Rise For The First Time Since 2015 Wave

BRUSSELS – Asylum claims to the European Union (EU) rose for the first time last year since the 2015 migration crisis, according to the latest report from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
The EASO report shows that migration trends in the EU vary considerably from country to country and from north to south.
Half of all asylum applications in the EU were made in just three member states: Germany (22 percent), France (17 percent) and Spain (16 percent).
Meanwhile, in 2019, Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain received more asylum seekers than in 2015.
As of March 2020, there were a total of 836,000 pending cases of people seeking asylum.
“The facts in this report show that we must better manage Migration. It is clear that some countries could contribute much more,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in the online launch of the EASO report.
“Migration has always been here; it will always be here. Our task is to manage Migration in an orderly manner and protect fundamental rights,” he added.
While the number of applications for Syrian citizens decreased slightly in 2019 compared to the previous year, applications for Afghan and Venezuelan citizens increased dramatically.
Venezuelan citizens submitted around 46,000 applications in 2019, more than double the previous year.
Due to linguistic and cultural connections, asylum seekers from Latin America mainly applied in Spain.
Similarly, requests from Afghans were mainly made in Greece, in line with the increase in arrivals along the Eastern Mediterranean route.
A total of almost 912,000 people were waiting for a decision in Europe in late 2019.
While procedures take less than two months in some countries, many take around 17 months, and on average, 25 percent of processes in Europe make more than two years.
“The number of pending cases still awaiting a decision at the end of 2019 continued to be much higher compared to the pre-2015 level, illustrating the pressure under which the asylum and reception systems are still operating,” the report statement read.
While the coronavirus pandemic reduced delays in early 2020 as a result of the temporary closure of offices, there were still around 836,000 cases pending at the end of March.
Overall, the coronavirus and national emergency measures led to an 87 percent reduction in asylum claims in recent months.
However, asylum applications slowly increased in May and EASO expects an increase in these numbers and a return to pre-COVID-19 trends.
“EU countries should be prepared for increases in asylum claims in the medium term, even due to the impact of Covid-19 in low-income countries,” they said.
The European Commission will present the long-stagnant Common European Asylum System once member states agree on the bloc’s long-term budget; the proposal is expected after the summer.
“I am quite optimistic that we can come up with a proposal that can be accepted and adopted. Although, I understand that it is also very difficult,” said Commissioner Johansson.
After the arrival of approximately one million people in 2015, EU policymaking around Migration has been hampered.
The commission’s proposal in 2016 called for an automated quota-based system by the member state, but met strong resistance from some countries.
Eastern European countries, particularly Hungary and Poland, oppose any mandatory system to redistribute asylum seekers across the bloc, while ‘front-line’ countries like Italy, Spain or Greece, insist on this aspect.
Johansson said Thursday that Europe needs a “mandatory solidarity mechanism”, but the design of the new migration package is still unclear as it must satisfy the positions of all member states.
Spain will reject any commission scheme for not including relocation fees, the Spanish newspaper El País recently reported.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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