The number of asylum seekers in the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway went up by a significant 28 percent in the first half of 2023. This is as compared to the same period of the previous year, according to statistics recently released by the European Agency for Asylum (EUAA).
There were 519,000 submitted requests between January and the end of June alone, the EUAA estimates. Prior to the end of the year, requests could surpass a million.
The top countries that asylum seekers come from this year include Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Turkey, and Colombia. These few nationalities alone account for 44 percent of total asylum requests. Though they are not necessarily among the more obvious countries of migration or even among the top countries migrants stem from, illegal migrant numbers could be much higher.
Asylum Seekers, They Really Are Increasing That Much
The spike in the number of asylum seekers is quite unique and comparable only to that of the first halves of 2015 and 2016, when Europe was faced with a mass exodus on its Southern shores, as migrants fled the peak of the Syrian conflict. Back then, asylum requests had reached 1.3 million in 2015 and 1.2 million in 2016. In 2022, the number of asylum requests was down to 994,945.
These continue to be impressive numbers, but they are bound to become unpredictable quite soon. Europe seems to not be seeing an end to the increase in people who migrate to and seek asylum in its member states.
Germany is the country with the most number of requests this year (30 percent of the total ones), followed by Spain (17 percent), and France (16 percent). This significant spike is putting pressure on European countries and their ability to process requests bureaucratically. It is also making it challenging to deal with funds needed to guarantee asylum to millions. The number of files awaiting a response has also skyrocketed by 34 percent as compared to 2022.
EUAA has declared that around 41 percent of requests have received an immediate positive response. This number is bound to increase and will have to be dealt with. On top of this, four million Ukrainians are currently making use of the ad hoc temporary protection the EU has granted them. Although they are deemed to be a separate issue, they have been dealt with through the same systems, placing immense pressure on them.
The EU has recently upheld its decision to keep granting Ukrainians access. It is looking into funding for its bureaucratic apparatus that keeps growing in a world that has radically changed.