Applications for asylum in Europe have fallen by nearly half amid national lockdown measures and border closures due to the coronavirus crisis.
Following a surge of asylum applications during the first two months of 2020, a 43 percent plunge is now being reported by the European Asylum Support Office.
“Figures released by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) show that in March, just 34,737 applications were lodged in the EU+, dropping by 43% from February,” the EASO announced. “Asylum authorities were affected to different extents across the EU+ by the COVID-19 outbreak, both with regard to the activities of asylum systems themselves, as well as due to border restrictions.”
“Just before the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, applications had increased compared to the same period in 2019 (+16% over January-February 2019), with 65,300 applications lodged in January and 61,100 in February. Thus, March figures are not truly indicative of asylum-related migration trends towards the EU+, but are rather the result of COVID-19 containment measures.”
Asylum trends in January and February were the highest they had been in over two years.
Syrian nationals represented the largest number of applicants in March, as they often have in recent years.
Interestingly, Venezuelan asylum seekers comprised the second largest group, followed by citizens of Colombia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe in March, Syrians (14,441) and Afghans (13,245) continued to lodge the most applications for asylum, as well as Colombians (10,155) and Venezuelans (10,098),” the EASO explains.
“These four citizenships accounted for 38% of all applications lodged in the EU+ overall in the first two months of the year.”
Four E.U. members states received more than 75 percent of all asylum applications lodged, although the EASO has neglected to detail which countries they are.
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(PHOTO: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst