A total of 15,834 Turkish nationals sought international protection in EU member states, Norway and Switzerland in 2020, according to an analysis released by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.
Applications from Turkey for asylum in European countries in 2020 decreased by 38 percent compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on movement.
Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government since a coup attempt in July 2016. Many have tried to flee illegally as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.
According to the EASO, some 461,300 applications for international protection were lodged last year in EU+ countries, down by 31 percent from 2019. The decrease in asylum applications reflects the pandemic and related emergency measures and restrictions.
While in January and February 2020 applications were higher than in the same months of the previous year, comparatively low numbers were lodged the rest of the year.
The EASO, based in Malta, supports implementation of the Common European Asylum System by applying a bottom-up approach. Its aim is to ensure that individual asylum cases are dealt with in a coherent way by all member states.
EU+ refers to the 27 European Union member states plus Norway and Switzerland. 2020 data for the EU+ doesn’t include the United Kingdom.
According to the EASO, the top countries of origin remained unchanged from 2019, with Syrians filing the most applications for asylum (64,540) in 2020. Afghans were second, followed by Venezuelans (30,643), Colombians (29,438) and Iraqis (18,167).
At the end of 2020 some 413,000 cases were not finalized, but more first instance decisions were issued than applications lodged for the first time since 2017, and the backlog, therefore, was somewhat reduced, the analysis said.
According to the relevant EU directives, a first instance decision is a decision granted by an authority acting as a first instance of the asylum procedure in the receiving country.
Last year 4 percent of all applications came from self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs), an increase of 1 percentage point over the previous year.
“The recognition rate in the EU+ remained stable at 32% in 2020, despite strong fluctuations during the year,” the analysis said.
Syrians (84 percent), Eritreans (80 percent) and Yemenis (75 percent) had the highest recognition rates, while the recognition rates of Colombians (2 percent) and Venezuelans (3 percent) were at low levels.