The number of asylum seekers in Europe has increased significantly, according to the EU's asylum agency. The reasons are a peak in Afghan asylum seekers and refugees smuggled to Eastern Europe via Belarus, Nina Gregori, the agency's director, told Funke Mediengruppe. In August 2021, there were about 40 percent more asylum applications than at the same time last year, she said.
"We are thus almost at the pre-Corona level in Europe in terms of asylum application numbers." He said people from Afghanistan alone have filed about 10,000 asylum applications in the EU since August. Some of them came via the Kabul airlift, he said.
The figures from the EU's asylum agency show that Germany is the country in the EU where the most people have sought protection in relation to the first three quarters. No other EU country had received as many asylum applications by the end of September, 100,278. The second most important country for those seeking protection, according to the report, is France (about 54,000 applications), followed by Spain (nearly 42,000 applications) and Italy (nearly 38,000 applications).
This is the ninth year in a row that the number of first-time asylum applications in Germany has exceeded the 100,000 mark. During the Corona pandemic, significantly fewer refugees and migrants had arrived in the Federal Republic. Last year, around 102,500 people submitted initial applications, including 26,500 applications from children who had already been born in Germany.
Gregori told the Funke newspapers that this year the countries bordering Belarus were one of the hotspots of migration, especially Latvia and Lithuania. The situation there is very serious, he said. Lithuania normally registers a total of 500 asylum applications a year, he said, adding that since the beginning of this summer there have been more than 2,500 from Belarus alone. He said the EU needs to focus attention on helping Eastern European states to better assist them with asylum issues in the future.
Image by Gerd Altmann