ECRE weekly bulletin, 2 November 2012: 3,810 Syrian nationals applied for asylum in Europe in Q2 2012 (April – June 2012), with about 2,000 more asylum applicants than in Q2 2011, according to the latest Eurostat statistics. The report underlines that almost three quarters of applicants in the EU-27 lodged their application in Germany and Sweden. Regarding decisions, the majority of Syrians fleeing their country have been granted international protection: statistics show that almost 9 out of 10 first instance decisions granted to Syrians were positive in Q2 2012 in the EU-27. 33% were recognized as refugees and 58% were granted subsidiary protection. Last week, Amnesty International, CCME and ECRE appealed to the EU Member States to ensure that no one is forcibly returned to Syria until the situation throughout the country has stabilised and there are adequate conditions for durable return. Also, Syrians should not be returned to Syria’s neighbours which already host the majority of Syrian refugees and who do not have asylum laws ensuring that refugee rights are protected. The NGOs urged EU Member States to grant legal status to Syrian asylum seekers whose asylum claims have been previously rejected and to afford them a dignified standard of living.
The organisations welcomed the fact that most EU countries appear to be processing, without undue delay, the small numbers of Syrian asylum claims they have received and according high recognition rates. However, they note that treatment of Syrian asylum applicants varies considerably across the EU, creating an unequal situation where Syrian nationals in similar circumstances receive different levels of protection depending on which EU country they are in. The NGOs underlined that in some EU countries Syrian asylum seekers experience serious difficulty in accessing the asylum system, while others are held in immigration detention centres for periods varying from weeks to months, despite the fact that they cannot be returned to Syria. The organisations were also alarmed by reported incidents of Syrian nationals being turned away at the EU’s external borders. Media reports suggest that more border police have been dispatched in a number of countries to increase security at external EU borders.
Despite the relative increase in applications from Syrian nationals, Afghanistan remained the top country of origin of persons seeking international protection in the EU-27, followed by Russia and Pakistan. All in all, less than 70 000 individuals sought asylum in the EU-27 during the second quarter of 2012 (Q2 2012), which is 10% less than for the same quarter of 2011.
Out of a total of 295 555 applicants in the EU-27 in the last 12 months (from Q2 2011 to Q2 2012), over a third were filed in Germany and France. Relative to each States’ population, Malta and Luxembourg are the countries with the highest number of asylum applicants in the EU-27 in that period.
The outcome of first instance decisions’ rates in Q2 2012 vary widely between States, with an overall rejection rate reaching 84% in France, whereas this rate is as low as 52% in Germany.