EU asylum seekers on the rise, even without Ukraine’s 3.4 mln refugees

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The number of asylum seekers in Europe is back on the rise after a lull due to the coronavirus pandemic, an official EU report said on Tuesday.

The rise occurred even without counting the 3.4 million refugees from Ukraine who have been registered by authorities in the biggest migration movement in Europe since World War II.


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“There have been three main drivers for these increasing numbers, namely the instrumentalization of migrants by the Belarus regime, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last summer and of course the war in Ukraine,” said Nina Gregori, executive director of the European Union Agency for Asylum.

In its annual report, the agency said that Syrians and Afghans led the list of asylum seekers, which totaled 648,000 people in 2021, roughly the same level as in 2018.

Most Ukrainians are not counted in asylum seeker data after they were given a special status shortly after the Russian invasion in February.

This temporary protection allows them to have access to housing, jobs and schools for a renewable period of one year.

Gregori said the emergency measure allowed the European asylum system to avoid becoming “overburdened.”

Despite the measure, she said Ukrainians were the top nationality of asylum seekers in March of this year, ahead of Afghans and Syrians.

That same month, applications filed by Russians doubled to 1,400 compared to a month before.

In 2021, Germany led the list of countries receiving the most asylum applications with 191,000, followed by France at 121,000 and Spain at 65,000.

The total rate of recognition of refugee status or similar protection was 34 percent with the highest approval rate for Eritreans at 81 percent.

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