- The number of people seeking asylum in Europe is on the rise, as conflicts and poverty force families to leave their home countries.
- Parlementair Documentatie Centrum
The EU statistics office, Eurostat, said on Friday (22 March) the EU registered 330,000 asylum seekers in 2012, up from 302,000 applicants in 2011. Syrian nationals are now the second most common asylum seeker in Europe, with the war pushing over 1 million refugees into neighbouring countries.
Afghans remain the top asylum applicants in the EU followed closely by Syrians, Russians, Pakistanis and Serbs. The United Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR) says nearly 22,000 Syrians applied for asylum in Europe last year. Last week, Germany announced it would accept some 5,000 Syrian refugees with the first arrivals expected in June.
Every EU member state has reported an increase of Syrian applicants, except in Greece where poor asylum conditions deprive applicants of basic rights. Under the EU’s so-called Dublin regulation, member states are entitled to send back any would-be refugee to the country where he first entered to claim asylum.
The regulation was introduced 15 years ago but vast divergences on the how it is applied remain. Reports of abuse, violence, and neglect prompted the European Court of Human Rights in 2011 to rule it illegal to send refugees to Greece from another EU member state.