Latest Asylum Trends

August 2022

Recognition rate - legend
Pending cases - legend

Source: EUAA EPS, August 2020 – August 2022

© EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union. The designation "Kosovo" is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member in the reporting country during the reporting month.

EU+ refers to the 27 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland.

First instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.

Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions at first instance are still pending.

The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.

 

Key Findings

  • In August 2022, asylum applications in the EU+ reached some 84 500, a new high since the refugee crisis of 2015/2016.
  • In addition, some 255 000 registrations for temporary protection were made in August, nearly all concerning Ukrainians. Together, asylum applications and registrations for temporary protection so far in 2022 have surpassed 5 million.
  • Asylum applications lodged by Syrians and Afghans both increased by around 30 % from July. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Afghans have lodged some 127 000 asylum applications in the EU+.
  • Both Turks and Indians applied the most on record in August. They became the third and fourth largest applicant groups, respectively, only behind Afghans and Syrians.
  • Asylum applications by Ukrainians were stable and those by Russians slightly declined.
  • At almost 4 700, applications lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors reached a new high since 2015.
  • EU+ asylum authorities issued some 55 400 first instance decisions in August. This was the second highest level in two years, only behind June 2022.
  • As applications again far outnumbered decisions, cases pending at first instance climbed to some 525 600 at the end of August. Half of them had been waiting for a decision for less than six months.
  • The EU+ recognition rate was 38 % in August, the lowest in seven months but still higher than the average in 2021 (35 %). Recognition rates were especially high for Ukrainians, Syrians, Yemenis, Malians, Eritreans and Belarusians.

Asylum applications at a new high since the refugee crisis

After EU+ countries received unusually many applications for asylum in recent months, in August 2022 applications reached some 84 500, a new high since the refugee crisis of 2015/2016.[1]  The increase by a sixth from July continued a general upward trend since mid-2021. Since the beginning of the year, EU+ countries have received about 564 000 asylum applications, up by 62 % compared to the same period in 2021. At the same time, large numbers of persons fleeing Ukraine continued to register for temporary protection status[2]  in the EU+. In August, there were some 255 000 registrations for temporary protection, almost exclusively of Ukrainian citizens. By 23 October, more than 4.6 million registrations had been made. Altogether, asylum applications and registrations for temporary protection so far in 2022 have surpassed 5 million.

Substantially more Afghan and Syrian applicants

Among those applying for asylum, Afghans (some 12 100) and Syrians (11 900) were again by far the largest groups in August, both increasing by around 30 % from July. In the 12 months since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Afghans have lodged some 127 000 asylum applications in the EU+ (see country focus). Over this period, the gap between Afghans and Syrians, initially large, has gradually narrowed to a few hundred applications. Although Afghans have applied steadily more in the last four months, Syrian applications have increased at a faster pace over the same period. In August, Syrians applied the most since October 2016, and from June to August, Syrians lodged more first-time applications than Afghans.

A recent EUAA report found that Afghans were mainly using the Western Balkan route into the EU+. Based on Frontex data,[3]  detected illegal border-crossings by Afghans on this route have increased somewhat in recent months while for Syrians, they have more than doubled since April, to the most since 2015 (close to 10 000 in August). This could mean that many Syrian applicants came from Türkiye, where they face increasingly uncertain prospects.[4]

Record numbers of Turkish, Indian and Moroccan applicants

In fact, Turks themselves were the third largest applicant group (about 4 600), only behind Afghans and Syrians. Resuming an upward trend since March after a dip in July, Turks applied the most on record[5]  in August (see country focus). Indian nationals (4 200) continued to lodge rapidly more applications, reaching a new all-time high in August (+ 46 % from July) and becoming the fourth largest group. Serbia’s visa-free travel regime for Indians likely plays a key role for this development, and similarly for the recent rises in Tunisian and Burundian applications.

In the list of the 10 main applicant groups, Indians were followed by Pakistanis (3 800) whose applications were stable but had reached a peak in June (see country focus). Next, Venezuelans (3 600) and Colombians (3 500) applied in roughly stable numbers. Applications by Bangladeshis (3 300) increased by a sixth, to the most since August 2015. Completing the 10 main groups, numbers of Tunisian and Georgian applicants (2 400 each) remained stable, following increases in recent months.

As a regional group, the North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Libya together accounted for about 6 400 applications in August, the most on record. The latest increase was partly driven by an all-time high of Moroccan applications (1 900). Nationals of countries in South Asia (except Afghanistan) together accounted for close to 12 000 applications in August, the most since mid-2015. This mainly reflected more Indian applicants but also relatively high numbers of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Nepalese. In contrast, asylum applications by Ukrainians (1 200) were stable and those by Russians (1 100) slightly declined compared with July. The latter does not yet include any effects of the Russian mobilisation declared in September. However, Belarusians (some 470) and Armenians (460) applied the most since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

The most unaccompanied minors since 2015

Applications by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) jumped to almost 4 700 in August, up by 28 % from July and reaching a new high since 2015. The 18 months leading up to August included only three months in which the number of UAMs significantly declined. In the most recent months, the upward trend accelerated and outpaced the overall increase in applications. As a result, self-claimed UAMs represented 6 % of all applicants in August, up from 4 % as recently as June. The main drivers of the latest increase were UAMs from Afghanistan (almost 2 300 in August, + 40 % from July) and Syria (1 100, + 49 %). At far lower levels, there were considerable increases also for UAMs from Tunisia (some 80, + 71 %) and India (50, + 56 %). Afghan UAMs continued to account for about half of all UAM applicants and almost one in every five Afghan applicants claimed to be a UAM (see country focus).

Focus on selected countries of origin of applicants

  • Afghanistan – August 2022 marked one year since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. In this month, Afghans lodged over 12 100 applications for international protection in the EU+, an increase of 27 % from July and the most since November 2021, still in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover. In the year since then, Afghans have been the largest group applying for asylum in the EU+, accounting for 15 % of all applications lodged. During this period, Afghans submitted over 127 000 asylum applications in EU+ countries and received over 73 000 decisions at first instance. Almost two thirds were positive decisions, with over 39 000 persons being granted refugee status and further 8 000 receiving subsidiary protection. 

    In August, nearly all Afghan applicants (92 %) applied for the first time. The number of applications lodged by self-claimed UAMs rose by 40 % from July, nearly reaching 2 300. This was more than twice the level at the start of the year and the highest number since December 2015. As in previous months, Afghan self-claimed UAMs accounted for almost half of all self-claimed UAMs in the EU+.

    In terms of decisions at first instance, Afghans received the second highest number of decisions among all nationalities in August (only behind Syrians), with close to 8 600 decisions issued. This was the most decisions issued to Afghans since December 2017. In addition, just under 3 300 applications were withdrawn and some 940 were closed in Dublin procedures. Despite the increase in total case closures, this was not enough to significantly reduce the number of pending applications at first instance, which remained stable at around 65 000 at the end of August. The number of applications pending for more than six months declined slightly in August, alongside a slight increase in applications pending for less than six months. 

    The EU+ first instance recognition rate for Afghans continued its downward trend in August reaching 44 %, far lower than the peaks in October and November last year (91 % each). About four fifths of the positive decisions on Afghan cases in August granted refugee status, while the remainder granted subsidiary protection. The decrease in the recognition rate can be explained by an increased use of decisions granting national forms of protection.

  • Türkiye – In August, Turks were the third largest group applying for international protection in the EU+ with close to 4 600 applications lodged, the most since at least 2014. In fact, some month-to-month fluctuations notwithstanding, Turkish applications have exhibited an upward trend since the beginning of this year. Nearly all Turkish applicants (94 %) who sought asylum in the EU+ in August, did so for the first time. Just around 1 % of all applicants were self-claimed unaccompanied minors.

    Since June 2021, first instance decisions on Turkish cases have fallen behind applications. There was a notable yet temporary increase in decision making in March 2022 but then first instance decisions issued on Turkish cases stayed behind again and declined to around 1 800 in August. As a result of the increasing inflow and receding decision making, the gap between both exceeded 2 700 cases in August, by far the largest gap on record. This also explains the rise in pending cases, which approached 22 500 at the end of August (also the highest level since at least 2014).

    The recognition rate for Turkish applicants has been in decline since the beginning of the year and, in August, dropped further to 36 %, the lowest in more than two years. However, Turks continued to receive almost exclusively refugee status: the share of positive decisions that granted refugee status (95 % in August) was one of the highest among all citizenships. Only 5 % of positive decisions granted subsidiary protection.

  • Pakistan – Asylum applications by Pakistani citizens remained high in August with over 3 800 applications lodged, declining only slightly from their peak in June (3 900). As a result, Pakistanis were the fifth largest applicant group in August. In line with previous months, almost all applications were lodged for the first time (92 %), while some 120 (3 %) were self-claimed UAMs. 

    From June to August, almost 11 600 Pakistanis applied for asylum in EU+ countries, an increase of almost 70 % from the same period of the previous year. This happened shortly after record-breaking monsoon rains hit Pakistan in mid-June 2022, which aggravated food insecurity and malnutrition in affected areas and reportedly left some 8 million people internally displaced.[6]

    In August, Pakistani applicants received about 2 100 decisions at first instance, a decline of 11 % from July, albeit still a high level when compared to the first months of the year. Fewer than 150 of these decisions granted either refugee status or subsidiary protection, resulting in a recognition rate of 7 %, in line with the last few months. During August, about 760 applications were withdrawn and around 170 were closed in Dublin procedures. Overall, applications pending at first instance continued to increase - exceeding 19 800 at the end of August, the highest number since May 2020. Just under half (47 %) of the pending cases had been pending for more than six months.

 

First instance decisions stable but still far behind applications

In August, EU+ asylum authorities issued the second highest number of first instance decisions in two years (about 55 400), only behind the peak in June (57 600). However, as decisions hardly increased from July (+ 3 %) while applications rose significantly, applications exceeded decisions by about 29 100 in August, the second largest gap so far in 2022. As in the past months, Syrians received the most decisions in August (some 9 300) followed by Afghans (8 600). Decisions issued to Venezuelans (3 600) more than doubled from July and reached the highest level in almost two years. Malians (1 000, the most since 2016), Indians (990) and Ukrainians (880) also received significantly more decisions than in the previous month. Decisions on Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali cases declined after reaching a peak in July.

Lower recognition rate  

The EU+ recognition rate was 38 % in August, the lowest in seven months but still higher than the average in 2021 (35 %). For the EU+ recognition rate, only decisions that granted refugee status and subsidiary protection are considered positive, in contrast to decisions granting humanitarian protection under national law that are not considered to be part of the Common European Asylum System. Some 11 600 applicants were granted refugee status and further 9 400 were granted subsidiary protection. As in the previous three months, the share of positive decisions granting subsidiary protection was relatively high (45 %).

Among citizenships receiving at least 200 decisions in August, recognition rates were especially high for Ukrainians (95 %), Syrians (93 %), Yemenis (88 %), Malians and Eritreans (83 % each) as well as Belarusians (78 %). Most positive decisions issued to these citizenships (except for Eritreans) granted subsidiary protection. Recognition rates were especially low for citizens of Moldova (0 %), Tunisia and India (1 % each) as well as North Macedonia and Armenia (2 % each).

Further increase of cases pending at first instance

Based on the latest available data, about 852 400 cases were pending at all instances in the EU+ at the end of July 2022.[7]  The slight decrease from June (- 1 %) was the first in months. Compared to a year earlier, pending cases at all instances have increased by 11 %. Cases pending at first instance – those that are still being processed by asylum authorities, not including those that are open in appeal or review (second and higher instances) – increased substantially more, by around two fifths between July 2021 and July 2022.

At the end of August 2022, some 525 600 cases were pending at first instance in EU+ countries, up by 3 % from July (data were missing for one EU+ country). As in the previous month, this was the highest caseload for asylum authorities in EU+ countries since June 2017. Cases pending for up to six months accounted for about half of all cases. Most cases pending at first instance concerned Afghans and Syrians (12 % each), followed by Venezuelans (7 %), Colombians (5 %) Turks and Pakistanis (4 % each). For the third consecutive month, pending cases on Afghans decreased, to a new low in 2022. In contrast, pending cases increased for Syrians, Turks, Venezuelans and Colombians, among others.

 

  • [1]These numbers include estimations for one EU+ country.
  • [2]European Commission, Migration and Home Affairs, Temporary protection, 21 April 2022.
  • [3]Preliminary data offered by Frontex refer to the number of detections of irregular border crossing at the external borders of the EU. The same person may attempt to cross the border several times in different locations at the external border, and thus will be counted more than once. See Frontex, Detections of illegal border-crossings statistics, last updated 4 October 2022.
  • [4]See e.g. reporting by Le Monde, Crackdown on Syrian refugees in Turkey intensifies, 11 September 2022.
  • [5]That is, since the beginning of the EPS data exchange in 2014.
  • [6]UNOCHA, Pakistan: 2022 Monsoon Floods - Situation Report No. 9, 14 October.
  • [7]Eurostat data (migr_asypenctzm) on pending cases at all instances in July 2022 were available for 28 EU+ countries. EUAA EPS data on pending cases at first instance were likewise available for 28 EU+ countries in July 2022. In both cases, the last available value was used for the country with missing data.