Record 34,000 Bangladeshis seek asylum in EU in 2022

The European Union flags flutter at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on 19 September, 2019
Reuters file photo

Thirty-four thousand Bangladeshis applied for international protection in the European Union in 2022, according to the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

Nearly 20,000 Bangladeshis sought asylum in the EU+ countries (EU, Norway and Switzerland) in 2021 while 33,729 irregular migrants from Bangladesh applied for international protection in 2022, bringing the Bangladesh at seventh place after Pakistan, the European agency said in its data published on Wednesday.

In 2022, EU+ countries received some 966000 applications for international protection, up more than 50 per cent from 2021, the EUAA said in a press release.

The largest applicant groups were Syrians, Afghans and Turks, but applications were also high for a wide range of other nationalities, while the caseload of applications pending decision hit its highest level since 2017.

The EUAA observes this represents a significant increase in 2021, by around half, and is owed in part to the removal of Covid-19-related restrictions and longer-term underlying trends such as conflicts and food insecurity in many regions of origin, resulting in strong push factors.

Furthermore, secondary movements within the EU and significant numbers of applications by nationals from visa-free countries who arrived legally, contributed as well.

It comes in addition to around 4 million people fleeing Ukraine who benefit from temporary protection. In activating the Temporary Protection Directive, the decision to offer a dedicated channel that does not require an individual examination of protection needs prevented the collapse of Europe’s asylum systems.

However, the combined five million persons seeking protection in Europe have placed its national reception systems under considerable pressure.

Record applications for a wide range of citizenships

Syrians (132 000) and Afghans (129 000) remained by far the largest applicant groups, and nationals of both countries lodged substantially more applications than in 2021, in fact the most since 2016.

The EUAA has recently issued Country Guidance on Syria and Afghanistan, with conclusions largely substantiating the protection needs of Syrian nationals, and finding inter alia that restrictions placed on Afghan women by the Taliban amount to persecution.

With more than doubling numbers, Turkish applicants (55 000) became the third largest group. They were followed by Venezuelans (51 000) and Colombians (43 000), who both lodged about three times as many applications as in 2021.

Turks, Venezuelans, Colombians, Bangladeshis (34 000), and Georgians (29 000) all applied the most on record. At lower levels, record applications were also lodged by citizens of India (26 000), Morocco (22 000), Tunisia (21 000), Egypt (15 000), Moldova (8 300), and several others.

Mounting caseload for national systems

In 2022, EU+ asylum authorities issued some 632 000 decisions at first instance, up by a fifth from 2021.

However, applications increased by far more – in fact outnumbering them by about 333 000 – resulting in the largest gap since 2015.

It largely translated into an increase in pending cases at first instance. At the end of the year, some 636 000 cases were awaiting a decision at first instance, a 44 per cent increase compared to 2021.

The EU+ recognition rate was 40 per cent in 2022, up by five percentage points from 2021 and the most in five years. Of the two-in-five applicants receiving a positive decision at first instance, around 147 000 were granted refugee status and 106 000 received subsidiary protection.

Recognition rates were especially high for Syrians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Eritreans, Yemenis, and Malians.

In contrast, recognition rates were especially low (i.e., under 4 per cent) for citizens of India, North Macedonia, Moldova, Vietnam, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Nepal among others.

EUAA operational support in half of the European Union

Equipped with a strengthened mandate to support the implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), in 2022 the Agency substantially increased its technical and operational support.

The number of countries benefitting from the EUAA Operational Support has quadrupled to 13 EU Member States since just 2019 (e.g., Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain), with over 1 500 deployed personnel.

The Agency is also providing support in a third country, Moldova.