A significant drop in the number of asylum applications in the EU has been seen by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), according to its annual report, published on June 18.
According to the data published, migratory pressure decreased for the second year in a row throughout 2017 on the eastern and central Mediterranean migration routes. An unprecedented upsurge, however, was seen on the western Mediterranean route. The EU’s asylum office counted 728,470 applications for international protection in 2017, a 44% drop from the 1.3 million applications in 2016.
While the overall number of asylum applications registered in 2017 dropped, some countries still noted considerable increases. Syria (15%), Iraq (7%) and Afghanistan (7%) remained the top three countries of origin of applicants in the EU. These were followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea, and Iran. Syrian asylum seekers numbered 108,020 in 2017, a 68.4% decrease since 2016.
The latest figures for the first four months of 2018 highlight a further drop in the number of applications submitted, as between January and April saw approximately 197,000 individuals seeking international protection in the EU. The number was a far a lower number than in the same period in 2015, but higher than the pre-crisis levels of 2014.
The decrease in the number of applications lodged in the EU was distributed across most citizenships of origin to different extents, but with some noteworthy exceptions. In particular, nationals of Venezuela and Georgia have been increasingly applying for asylum in far higher numbers since 2017, increasing by 75 % and 133 %, respectively. The number of Georgian applicants has skyrocketed since the small post-Soviet state was given a visa-free travel regime with the Schengen Zone in 2017.
Read more: Asylum applications in the EU drop significantly according to EASO