Latest Asylum Trends
Latest asylum trends – May 2019
The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 24 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries, the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first-instance (blue - high, red - low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.
Reference month: Citizenship:
Source: EASO EPS, May 2017 – May 2019.
Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member in the reporting country during the reporting month.
First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.
Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions in first instance are still pending.
The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
Asylum applications increased so far in 2019
In May 2019, there were approximately 57 004 applications for international protection in EU+ countries, more or less stable with April.1 As has been the case so far in 2019, asylum applications were more numerous than a year ago in May 2018, although this month the difference was more modest than in other months. Since the beginning of the year, about 287 500 asylum applications have been lodged, up by 14 % from the same period in 2018. Moreover, more persons were seeking asylum at the beginning of 2019 compared to the end of 2018, despite the fact that applications usually peak during the summer and autumn months. Overall, asylum trends in 2019 are a continuation of a surge in the number of asylum applications lodged in the EU+ in the autumn of 2018, particularly by certain citizenships.
Repeated applicants – who previously lodged an application in the same EU+ country – continued to account for about one in 10 applicants in the EU+. At the citizenship level, the highest concentration of repeated applicants in the EU+ continued to be among nationals of some Western Balkan countries, in particular Serbia (37 %), Kosovo (30 %) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (27 %). However, also for many other citizenships the share of repeated applications was very high in specific countries, although much less noticeable at the EU+ aggregated level.
Some 3 % of all applications in May were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs).2 The highest concentration of UAMs was for nationals of Afghanistan, among whom more than one in 10 applications lodged in May involved UAMs. Such a high number of UAM applicants from Afghanistan was unseen for the past two and a half years. Large numbers of UAMs were also observed among nationals of Vietnam and Sudan (10 % each).
The most common countries of origin of applicants in May were Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela. Together, these three citizenships accounted for a quarter of all applications lodged in the EU+ in May. While applications from Syrians remained stable compared to April and were much fewer than during the same time a year ago (- 19 %), Afghans and Venezuelans continued to lodge increasing numbers of applications, following a medium-term trend (see box below for more information).
Iraq, Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia also featured among the 10 most common countries of origin of applicants, with each country of origin following different trends. Most of these citizenships lodged more applications compared to the previous month, as well as compared to May 2018. In particular, this was the case for Colombians, who lodged twice as many applications as a year ago. As noted several times before, this increase also concerned applicants from several other Latin-American countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru; notably, applicants from the latter country lodged a record number of applications (555). Many citizenships are lodging increasing numbers of applications. For instance, Nicaraguans lodged more than 3 000 asylum applications between January and May 2019, up from just a hundred in the same period a year ago. Colombians lodged three times as many applications, and Honduran applications more than doubled. The EU+ asylum picture revealed that such trends took place for several other citizenships of origin, seeking international protection more frequently in the first five months of 2019 than last year. Among those with a relatively larger number of applications, increases were evident for Turks (+ 41 %), Iranians (+ 31 %), Georgians, Albanians (+ 27 % each) and Afghans (+ 26 %). At relatively lower levels of applications, instead, large upsurges were associated also with nationals of Palestine (+ 53 %), Moldova (+ 48 %), China (+ 44 %) and India (+ 37 %); all countries with very different situations with regard to their regions of origin, major destination countries in the EU+ as well as recognition rates. Conversely, citizens of The Gambia (- 39 %), Kosovo (- 33 %), Eritrea (- 29 %) and Libya (- 27 %) lodged fewer applications. In absolute terms, much fewer applications were lodged by Eritreans, Bangladeshis, Syrians and Iraqis, all prominent countries of origin of applicants.
Focus on relevant countries of origin of applicants
Syria - In May 2019, Syrians continued to lodge the most applications (almost 5 300). So far this year, Syrians lodged almost 27 400 asylum applications, three quarters of which in just four EU+ countries; a year ago, in the first five months of 2018, asylum applications were slightly fewer (by some 2 500).
Syrian applicants received some 5 400 first-instance decisions in May, almost on par with the previous month. The overall output for the first five months of 2019 amounted to 32 500, similar to the same period a year earlier. Overall in the EU+, there were almost as many case closures (either because a decision was issued or the application was withdrawn or discontinued) as applications lodged by Syrian nationals. Approximately 44 800 Syrian applications were pending at first instance by the end of May, about 750 more than at the end of April, after the stock decreased for several months. More than three quarters of all such cases were pending in just five EU+ countries.
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months (December 2018-May 2019) was 87 %, similar to the previous semester.
Afghanistan – Afghan nationals lodged more than 4 000 asylum applications in May, and almost 19 800 since the beginning of the year (+ 26 % compared to a year ago). Five EU+ countries received more than four-fifths of Afghan applications. As mentioned, UAMs among Afghan applicants increased considerably in May. Afghanistan remained the country of origin of most UAMs, accounting for one in five UAMs lodging applications in the first five months of 2019. Some EU+ countries received a relatively larger share of Afghan UAMs.
Fewer than 3 000 first-instance decisions were issued to Afghan applicants in May. Afghans continued to receive fewer decisions than in previous years: between January and May, they received some 15 000, half as many as a year ago. This was the largest drop among all countries of origin. Inflows (asylum applications lodged) were slightly higher than outflows (case closures, including first-instance decisions, withdrawals and discontinuations), resulting in a net increase in the number of cases awaiting a first-instance decision - by some 900 applications. At the end of May, about 33 650 cases were awaiting a decision at first instance, more than four-fifths of which were in five EU+ countries.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months was 48 %, in line with the previous semester.
Venezuela – Venezuelan nationals lodged increased numbers of asylum applications in May, again exceeding 4 000 applications. So far this year, Venezuelans lodged some 18 500 applications for international protection, about twice as many as a year earlier. Applicants from Venezuela were heavily concentrated in a few EU+ countries, with five countries registering almost all their applications.
The number of decisions issued at first instance to Venezuelan applicants returned to be extremely low in May; just 400 decisions, down by half compared to April. Just about 2 300 first-instance decisions were issued so far in 2019, a fraction of the applications lodged. As withdrawals and discontinuations accounted just for a tiny minority of case closures, the number of Venezuelan cases pending at first instance amounted to about 37 000 at the end of May.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months to Venezuelans was 33 %, in line with the previous semester.
Colombia – Asylum trends for Colombians reached a new record level in May: more than 2 800 applications were lodged, the highest number registered since 2014 in the EPS data exchange. So far in 2019, Colombian nationals lodged more than 11 000 applications, three times as many as in the first five months of 2018. Almost all applications were lodged in just five EU+ countries.
In spite of the surge in asylum applications, fewer than 400 decisions were issued at first instance to Colombian applicants in May, amounting to slightly more than 1 500 in the first five months of the year. Combined with a modest number of other types of closures, the number of cases pending at first instance sharply rose to over 14 500, almost all of which in just five EU+ countries.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months was 9 %, down by five percentage points from the previous semester.
Thus far in 2019, the output of first-instance authorities remained modest
In May, some 47 275 decisions were issued at first instance in the EU+, up by 7 % from April.3 So far in 2019, the output of first-instance authorities remained stable, but at levels lower than in 2018 (which was already characterised by much fewer decisions issued in the EU+); between January and May 2019, some 235 700 first-instance decisions were issued, down by 12 % from the same period a year earlier. Nevertheless, trends varied widely across the EU+, and three-quarters of all decisions were issued in just five EU+ countries.
Trends differed also at the citizenship level. Syrian applicants continued to receive the most decisions in May, followed by Nigerians, Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis; all but Syrians received more decisions than in April, ranging between + 8 % for Afghans and + 27 % for Iraqis. If cumulative decisions (all those issued between January and May 2019) are taken into consideration, the picture would be different. Of the aforementioned citizenships, Syrians were the only group receiving a stable number of decisions compared to the first five months of 2018, whereas the remaining citizenships all received far fewer decisions. In particular, the output halved for Afghans, and decreased by 23 % for Iraqis. Other citizenships, on the other hand, received more decisions than in the first part of 2018, such as Albanians (+ 22 %), Turks (+ 24 %), Venezuelans (+ 50 %) and Georgians (+ 15 %). However, the volume of additional decisions received by these applicants was modest in absolute terms, ranging between + 1 716 for Albanians, and about + 1 000 for Georgians. All these citizenships lodged, as mentioned above, more applications in the first five months of 2019, thus an intensification of decision-making might represent a strategy to limit the expansion of the backlog, at least in the EU+ countries receiving most applications from these third-country nationals.
It is also informative to examine the number of first-instance decisions compared to the number of asylum applications lodged by specific citizenships. Among the top 30 citizenships with most decisions issued, applicants from Syria and several Western African countries (including Nigeria, The Gambia, Mali, Senegal and Gambia), received more first-instance decisions than they lodged applications resulting in a decrease in the backlog. However, the situation was opposite for Venezuelan, Afghan, Colombian, Georgian, Turkish and Iranian nationals, for whom the number of applications lodged was higher than the number of decisions received, despite these have increased so far in 2019. Such discrepancies clearly have implications for the assessment of the specific stocks of pending cases.4
EU+ recognition rates
In May, the EU+ recognition rate at first instance was 32 %.5 The rate was slightly higher when assessing the last six months, 35 % (December 2018 – May 2019), which equalled the rate in the previous semester (June - November 2018).6 The majority of positive decisions issued in the past six months granted refugee status (69 %), and the remainder subsidiary protection.
Among the citizenships with at least 1 000 decisions issued in the past six months, applicants from Yemen (89 %), Syria (87 %) and Eritrea (80 %) had the highest recognition rates, whereas those from Moldova (0.39 %), North Macedonia (1 %), Georgia and India (3 % each) had the lowest. With regard to recognition rate variation, a large drop was observed for applicants from Palestine (by 21 percentage points to 57 %), Libya (57 %, - 9 p.p.), Colombia (9 %, - 5 p.p.) and Vietnam (16 %, - 5 p.p.). In contrast, the recognition rate increased considerably for Turks (54 %, + 8 p.p.) and, to a lesser extent, Cameroonians (28 %, + 5 p.p.), Somali (51 %, + 4 p.p.) and Sudanese (63 %, + 4 p.p.).
Cases pending at first instance increased in one-year time
Pending cases are an important measure of the workload that national asylum authorities face, as well as of the pressure on the national reception systems. At the end of May 2019 there were some 444 597 applications awaiting a decision in first instance in the EU+, stable compared to April. Almost three quarters of the backlog at first instance continued to be registered in just five EU+ countries. It is important to notice that, compared to a year ago in May, the number of cases pending at first instance actually increased by about 16 300. Moreover, by the end of March 2019, there were almost as many applications awaiting a decision in appeal or review as at first instance, implying that a considerable part of the backlog has been transferred from asylum authorities to judicial bodies.7
With regard to the main citizenships of origin, one in four applications pending at first instance involved applicants from Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan; for all of them the number of applicants awaiting a first-instance decision increased, both compared to April 2019 and May 2018. In particular, the stock of cases pending for Venezuelans almost doubled compared to a year ago. The number of applications pending for Nigerians and Eritreans, conversely, decreased considerably on both monthly and yearly bases. This was true also for other African citizenships, including Senegalese and Malian. The opposite was true, beside Venezuelan, for Colombian, Turkish, Iranian and Georgian nationals for whom, as explained, the increase in the number of decisions did not offset rising asylum trends, leading to an expansion of pending cases.
Slightly more than half of all applications were pending for longer than six months (55 %). For some citizenships, a larger proportion of applicants was awaiting a first-instance decision for longer, as was the case for applicants from several Latin American countries, such as Venezuela (74 %), Honduras (70 %), Colombia (67 %) and El Salvador (65 %).
This page is produced by EASO’s Information and Analysis Unit (IAU) on the basis of monthly data exchanged under the Early Warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with EASO by the EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated, and therefore may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat (according to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007). In line with the dissemination guide on EPS data, EASO cannot publish data disaggregated per EU+ country.
 The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Monthly data for May were available for 29 EU+ countries; monthly data for April were available for all 30 EU+ countries.
 Claimed UAM represent the asylum applicants claiming to be below the age of 18 years rather than those assessed to be such after an age assessment has been carried out. Some EU+ countries have difficulties reporting on claimed UAM in the framework of the EPS data exchange. These figures should therefore be considered as underestimations of the actual proportion of claimed UAM. Data refer to citizenships lodging at least 200 applications overall in May.
 First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process. Data on first-instance decisions were available for 29 EU+ countries.
 It must be noted that cases closures also include, beside first-instance decisions, also withdrawals and discontinuations (for instance, when another EU+ country accepted responsibility for examining an asylum application following a Dublin procedure).
 The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
 It is more meaningful to calculate recognition rates over longer periods of time, to limit sensitivity to low numbers, applicants’ profiles and constraints relating to internal organisation of first-instance authorities (i.e. number of working days).
 An indication of the cases pending at second and higher instances (i.e. in appeal or review) may be drawn by comparing the number of cases awaiting a decision at first instance (EPS data), with those pending at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure (Eurostat data).