By Deirdre Tynan • 23 July 2021 • 10:18
Nationals of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria have lodged surprisingly few asylum applications over the past year, based on the number of illegal border-crossings that were detected for these nationalities. In contrast, applications by West Africans were again high in May.
Analysis released by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) shows that about 37,800 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+, that is the EU plus countries in the Schengen area, in May 2021.
The top origin countries in May were Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Afghans lodged more applications for the third consecutive month, 5,100 in May, a 33 per cent increase since February 2021. With 900 applications in May, Georgia joined the 10 main origin countries for the first time in over a year.
Discrepancy between asylum applications and illegal border-crossings
Nationals of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria have been the most prominent after Syrians in terms of illegal border-crossings detected at the external EU border over the past 12 months. However, they surprisingly lodged fewer asylum applications during the same period than the number of detected illegal border-crossings. In contrast, asylum applications were higher than illegal border-crossings for all other main origin countries. This suggests that many Moroccans, Tunisians and Algerians who entered the EU+ illegally have chosen not to apply for asylum, possibly due to the low recognition rates for these nationalities.
Applications by West Africans back to peak value
West Africans lodged 5,500 applications in May, returning to the peak value of March 2021. While Nigerians remained by far the largest group among West Africans, the increase was largely due to Senegalese. Ghanaians lodged the most applications in more than a year and Malians remained one of the 10 main nationalities, alongside Nigerians. The relatively high number of asylum applications by West Africans partly reflects increased irregular migration on the Western African route towards the Canary Islands.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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