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Nearly 1 million apply for asylum in EU in 2022

February 22, 2023

Syrians and Afghans applied for asylum in the highest numbers in 2022, following an easing of COVID-19 restrictions and a rise of political insecurity in their respective countries.

An asylum-seeker authenticates her fingerprint by pressing on to a machine, Germany, November 2015
Most asylum-seekers enter the EU legally, mainly by plane with travel visasImage: Armin Weigel/dpa/picture alliance

Nearly a million people applied for asylum in European countries last year, the highest tally since 2016, according to a Wednesday report by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

The agency said it received some 966,000 applications in 2022, which is 50% more applications it received in 2021.

The numbers include applications for countries in the European Union, as well as Norway and Switzerland that are not members of the EU.

Ukrainian refugees in EU states are protected under a separate mechanism called the Temporary Protection Directive and are largely not part of the asylum applications. The directive aims to avoid slowing down the asylum processes for old and new applicants.

Fleeing Afghanistan — Escaping to Germany

Nearly 1,251,815 people applied for asylum in 2016, when the Syrian conflict created the largest wave of refugees to Europe after World War II. 

Now, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 accounts for the largest movement of refugees since World War II, with more than 7 million people having fled the country. Millions more remain internally displaced.

Syrians, Afghans largest group of asylum applicants

With more than 130,000 applications, Syrians were the largest group to have applied for asylum.

They were closely followed by Afghans fleeing insecurity in their own country following the Taliban's 2021 takeover, with 129,000 requests.

Turks, with 55,000 requests, were the third-largest group to have applied for protection owing to soaring inflation and a crisis of democracy in the country, according to the EU agency for asylum.

Venezuelans, Colombians, Bangladeshis and Georgians applied for asylum in record numbers last year, as did Moroccans, Tunisians and Egyptians. Some 4% of asylum-seekers claimed to be unaccompanied minors.

The number of applications surged in 2022 partly owing to a relaxation of COVID-19 measures, as well as growing economic insecurity and conflict around the world, the EU agency said.

rm/nm (AP, AFP)