612 700 first-time asylum seekers registered in 2019, up by 12% highest rate per population in Cyprus

In 2019, 612 700 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU), up by 12% compared with 2018 (549 000), but around half of the number recorded in the peak year 2015 when 1 216 900 first-time asylum applicants were registered, according to data released today by Eurostat, the statistical service of the EU.

According to Eurostat, Syrian (74 400 first-time applicants) and Afghan (52 500) continued to be the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2019, followed by Venezuelan (44 800), which moved up from fifth place in 2018 to third in 2019, together accounting for 28% of all first-time applicants.

More specifically in Greece the number of first time asylum applicants increased from 64 975 in 2018 to 74 910 in 2019, or by 15%, accounting for the 12.2% of the EU total, or 6 985 applicants per million of population. Out of them the main countries of origin were Afghanistan 23 665, or 32%, Syria 10 750 or 14% and Pakistan 6 420 or 9%.

In Cyprus the number of first time asylum applicants increased from 7 610 in 2018 to 12 695 in 2019, or by 67%, accounting for the 2.1% of the EU total, at 14 495 applicants per million of population, by far the highest rate in the EU. The main nationalities applying in Cyprus are Syrian 2 550 or 20%, Georgian 1 490 or 12% and Indian 1 425 or 11%.

Furthermore, according to Eurostat, with 142 400 first-time applicants registered in 2019, Germany accounted for 23% of all first-time applicants in the EU Member States. It was closely followed by France (119 900, or 20%) and Spain (115 200, or 19%), ahead of Greece (74 900, or 12%) and Italy (35 000, or 6%).

Among EU Member States with more than 5 000 first-time asylum seekers in 2019, the number of first time applicants rose most compared with the previous year in Spain (+118%, or 62 400 more first-time asylum seekers in 2019 than in 2018) and Cyprus (+67%, or 5 100 more), ahead of Sweden (+28%, or 5 000 more), Belgium (+27%, or 5 000 more), Greece (+15%, or 9 900 more), the Netherlands (+10%, or 2 000 more) and France (+8%, or 8 500 more). In contrast, the largest relative decreases were recorded in Italy (-34%, or 18 400 fewer), Germany (-12%, or 19 400 fewer) and Austria (-7%, or 800 fewer).

Syrian (12% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2019, a position it has held each year since 2013. Of the 74 400 Syrians who applied for asylum for the first-time in the EU in 2019, more than half were registered in Germany (39 300, or 53%). Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in seven EU Member States.

With 52 500 first-time applicants (or 9% of the EU total) in 2019, Afghan was the second main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States. Almost half of Afghans (45%) applied in Greece (23 700). Afghan was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in five EU Member States. Venezuelan (7% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the third main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2019.

Of the 44 800 Venezuelans seeking asylum protection for the first-time in the EU in 2019, the vast majority (90%) applied in Spain (40 300). Venezuelan was the main citizenship of asylum seekers only in Spain. While the number of applicants from Syria decreased compared to 2018 (-7%, or 5 700), the number of Afghans and Venezuelans increased by 35% (13 600) and 102% (22 600) respectively.

The highest number of registered first-time applicants in 2019 relative to the population of each Member State was recorded in Cyprus (14 495 first-time applicants per million population), ahead of Malta (8 108), Greece (6 985) and Luxembourg (3 585). In contrast, the lowest numbers were recorded in Slovakia (39 applicants per million population), Hungary (48), Poland (73), Estonia (76) and Latvia (93). In 2019, in the EU as a whole, there were 1 371 first-time asylum applicants per million population.

At the end of 2019, 842 500 applications for international protection in the EU Member States were still under consideration by the national authorities.

At the end of 2018, this figure was slightly higher (851 000). Germany had the largest share of applications pending in the EU at the end of 2019 (326 800, or 39% of the EU total), ahead of Spain (133 000, or 16%), Greece (105 400, or 13%), France (74 400, or 9%) and Italy (47 000, or 6%).

Among EU Member States with more than 5 000 pending applications at the end of 2019, the number of pending applications rose most compared with the previous year in Cyprus (+85%, or 8 600 more pending applications in 2019 than in 2018), Spain (+69%, or 54 300 more), and Belgium (+49%, or 9 500 more).

The largest relative decreases were recorded in Italy (-54%, or 56 000 fewer), Austria (-29%, or 10 900 fewer) and Sweden (-27%, or 10 100 fewer).

Source: Cyprus News Agency