Latest Asylum Trends
Latest asylum trends – September 2018
Reference month: Citizenship:
Source: EASO EPS, September 2016 – September 2018. The visualisation above provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 26 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 month. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.
Asylum applications in the EU+
In September, close to 52 000 applications for international protection were lodged in EU+ countries, a similar total as in August.1 Since the start of 2018, almost 462 000 applications have been lodged in the EU+, 14 % fewer than during the same period of 2017.
More than 9 % of all applicants had previously lodged an asylum application in the same reporting country; in September, there were 4 836 repeated applicants. Although most repeated applicants were from Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, the highest concentration was among citizens of Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia (for whom 1 in 3 applicants were repeats) which implies that these citizenships were long-term occupants of the asylum system.2
Applications lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) accounted for about 3 % of the total.3 A third of these UAMs originated from just three countries: Afghanistan (14 % of the total), Eritrea (9 %) and Pakistan (9 %). The highest concentration of self-claimed UAMs, however, continued to be among applicants from Vietnam (24 % of all Vietnamese applicants claimed to be UAMs), followed by those from The Gambia (14 %) and Eritrea (11 %).4
More than half of all applications in the EU+ in September 2018 were lodged by ten citizenships, including Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish, Pakistani, Albanian, Nigerian, Venezuelan and Russian citizens. Among these ten main citizenships, Pakistani, Iranian, Venezuelan and Albanian applicants lodged significantly more applications in September than in the previous month. The largest month-to-month decreases were for Iraqi, Russian, Syrian and Turkish nationals.
Countries of origin
Syria – In September 2018, Syrian citizens lodged 6 001 applications for international protection in the EU+, some 7 % fewer than in the previous month and the lowest monthly level since March 2018. Despite this decrease, Syria was still the top country of origin, and represented 12 % of all applications in the EU+ in September. Almost two-thirds of all Syrians seeking international protection in September did so in just two EU+ countries. In contrast to the fewer applications, the number of first-instance decisions issued to Syrian applicants actually increased to 6 660, the highest number since March 2018. Nevertheless, the number of cases awaiting a first-instance decision remained stable (and high) at 47 521. The recognition rate for decisions issued in the six-month period April-September 2018 was 87 %, down from 88 % in the previous semester (October 2017-March 2018).
Afghanistan – With 4 115 applications for asylum in September, Afghanistan became the second main country of origin in the EU+. This was an increase by 105 compared to the previous month, and the second-highest total in the previous twelve months. Three EU+ countries combined received nearly three-quarters of all Afghan applications in September. Almost one in twenty Afghan applicants claimed to be unaccompanied minors; the second lowest share of the last twelve-month period, even though Afghans were still the main citizenship of UAM applications. Slightly fewer first-instance decisions were issued to Afghan applicants in September compared to recent months, but remained below 4 000 and lower than earlier in the year. The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued to Afghan applicants in the last six months rose from 35 % to 45 %, with the majority granting subsidiary protection. The number of Afghans awaiting a decision in first-instance remained stable at 31 150.
Iraq – Iraqis lodged more than 4 000 applications in August, but this fell to fewer than 3 500 in September. More than half of all Iraqi nationals lodged an application in just two EU+ countries. Some 3 304 decisions were issued at first-instance to Iraqi applicants, a number similar to recent months. In the last semester, Iraqi nationals received a positive decision in 39 % of cases, and in more than two-thirds of these cases positive decisions granted refugee status. In the previous semester, the recognition rate was three percentage points higher. As was the case for Syrians and Afghans, for Iraqi the number of open cases in first-instance also remained stable (26 662 at the end of September).
Iran – In September, Iranians lodged 2 748 applications for international protection, the highest monthly number since October 2016. This was an increase of 11 %, and represents the fourth consecutive month with significant increases. Some 73 % of all Iranian applications were concentrated in just three EU+ countries. The number of first-instance decisions issued to Iranian applicants slightly increased over the previous two months, reaching 1 558 decisions in September. Nevertheless, the stock of Iranian cases awaiting a first-instance decision increased by 8 % to 13 461, the highest number recorded since December 2017. The recognition rate for decisions issued to Iranians in the past six months was 38 %, down from 43 % in the previous semester. Nearly all positive decisions granted refugee status (94 %), one of the highest shares of international protection among all citizenships of origin. It is worth noting that Iranian nationals were able to travel visa-free to Serbia between August 2017 and October 2018 which is thought to have affected migration routes.
Number and outcome of first instance decisions
EU+ countries issued 46 721 decisions at first instance in September, some 2 000 more than in August, and the second consecutive month with increasing numbers.5 Most of the decisions continued to be issued to applicants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan, together accounting for 40 % of all first-instance decisions. More first-instance decisions were issued in September than in the previous month for all top five citizenships, with the exception of Iraqi applicants. Of all citizenships being issued more than 500 first-instance decisions in September, the largest relative increases occurred for Sudanese (+ 23 %), Albanian (+ 21 %) and Guinean (+ 20 %) nationals, and the largest relative decrease for Eritreans (- 8 %).
The overall EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued between April and September was 34 %, as in the previous semester. More or less two thirds of all positive decisions granted refugee status, with the remainder granting subsidiary protection. Among citizenships with the most decisions,6 the highest recognition rates in the past six months were for nationals of Syria (87 %), Yemen (87 %), Eritrea (81 %) and Palestine (75 %). Conversely, citizens of Moldova (1 %), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1 %), Ghana (2 %), Georgia and The Gambia (3 % each) were subject to the lowest recognition rates.
Stock of pending cases at the end of September 2018
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 September, there were 436 337 cases awaiting a first-instance decision. After a continued decrease in stock until June 2018, open cases in first-instance started to rise again each month since July. Between August and September, there was a 1 % increase, which in absolute numbers represented more than 4 000 cases.7 On top of these cases pending in first instance, many cases are also pending at second and higher instance. For example, Eurostat data available until July 2018 suggest that the overall number of cases pending at all instances in EU+ countries8 has been at least double the number of cases pending at first instance. Results of analyses by EASO suggest that the pressure on national systems to process asylum applications has partially been transferred from the asylum authorities to judicial bodies.9
Syrian, Afghan and Venezuelan citizens had the most first-instance pending cases at the end of September, together accounting for a quarter of all pending cases in the EU+. While for the majority of citizenships of origin the stock decreased, there were significant increases for Colombian (+ 17 %), Turkish (+ 10 %), Venezuelan (+ 9 %) and Iranian (+ 8 %) nationals. At the end of September 2018, just over half of all cases awaiting a decision at first instance had been pending for longer than six months.
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).
Date of release: 13 November 2018
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.
 The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Data on applications for international protection were available for 29 EU+ countries. Monthly data from one EU+ country was missing in both August and September.
 To avoid sensitivity to low numbers, only countries of origin with at least 100 applications overall are considered.
 Not all EU+ countries report on the number of UAMs, so the total is likely higher.
 Only countries of origin with at least 100 applications overall are considered.
 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.
 To avoid sensitivity to low numbers, only countries of origin with at least 500 decisions are considered.
 Data on pending cases were available for 28 EU+ countries; in July, data was available for 29 EU+ countries.
 Eurostat, Persons subject of asylum applications pending at the end of the month by citizenship, age and sex Monthly data, last update 30 October 2018.
 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).