Asylum Statistics 2016: Sharper inequalities and persisting asylum lottery

Asylum statistics for 2016 in key European countries are in the process of being published by national authorities. This article provides an overview of asylum trends, up-to-date as of 17 January 2017. Available statistics reveal sharper discrepancies in the distribution of refugees across Europe, as well as persisting disparities in the recognition of international protection.

Germany leads reception of asylum seekers

Germany, by far the main destination country last year, registered as many as 745,545 asylum applications. Only 280,000 of those concerned new arrivals, however, while the remainder were formal registrations of protection claims expressed in 2015. Despite a large influx of arrivals, only 476,649 people registered asylum applications in 2015. Until they are formally registered as applicants for international protection, people seeking asylum receive a certificate of “reporting as an asylum seeker” (BÜMA).

An increase in asylum applications compared to 2015 was also reported in Italy and France, where statistics refer to a total 123,482 and 85,244 claims respectively in 2016. Greece also saw a nearly fourfold increase in the number of asylum applications registered.

Most other countries remain far behind Germany and reported a decrease in the number of asylum applications registered last year:

The main nationalities of asylum seekers in 2016 remain Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. However, France saw mainly applications from nationals of Sudan, Afghanistan and Haiti, while Albania and Eritrea figured in the top three nationalities in the Netherlands.


Protection disparities persist

Still in 2016, recognition rates vary significantly from one EU Member State to another. Sweden reported an overall protection rate of 77.4%, whereas neighbouring Finland had a rate of 35.2% and Italy a rate of 38.7%. Recognition rates have also varied for the same nationalities, such as Iraq:

Recognition rates for Iraq: 2016
Country Decisions taken Recognition rate
Germany 68,562 70.2%
Austria 3,147 66.8%
Greece 66.5%
Belgium 6,072 54.4%
Sweden 10,135 45%
Finland 16,308 24.1%
Norway 2,290 18.4%

The EU has committed to ensuring more convergence in asylum decisions across its Member States, namely by reforming the criteria for granting protection under the proposed Qualification Regulation. The proposal aims to oblige Member States to apply the internal flight alternative so as to refuse protection to those who are considered able to find safety in other parts of their home country. Already in 2016, the application of this concept has led to lower recognition rates for nationalities such as Iraq and Afghanistan:

Recognition rates for Afghanistan: 2015-2016
Country Recognition rate 2015 Recognition rate 2016
Germany 72.2% 55.8%
Austria 78.4% 56%
Belgium 77.3% 59%
Greece 60.5% 48.8%
Sweden 54.5% 45%
Finland 71.6% 42.4%




For more information, see:

Source : Asylum Statistics 2016: Sharper inequalities and persisting asylum lottery | Asylum Information Database

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