REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The number of applications for international protection in European member states has fallen below pre-crisis levels, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) says.

According to findings in their latest report entitled; ‘EU+ asylum trends 2018 survey’, there has been a considerable drop in the recognition rate of applications over the last three years.

EASO states that EU+ countries had registered 634,700 applications in 2018.  This represented a 10% drop on 2017 and a third year decline following the major demand for international protection applications in 2015.

Overall, this represents a return to the pre-crisis levels seen in 2014, where only 641,000 applications were processed. These applications refer to refugee status and subsidiary protection forms rather than those pertaining to humanitarian reasons.

One in 10 applications from Syrians

EASO also records that Syrians remain the largest number of asylum applications than other nationals seeking protection.

They state that one in 10 applications to the EU+ were from Syrians, representing 74,800 applications. This was followed by Afghans (45,300) and Iraqis (42,100). These countries accounted for over a quarter (26%) of all the applications made in 2018.

Credit: EASO

While these represented the three largest number of applications, EASO states that the wider system of asylum has evened out from 2017 to 2018.  Pakistan (5%), Iran, Nigeria, Turkey, Venezuela (4 % each), Albania and Georgia (3 % each), were also represented as the top ten countries of origin.

Credit: EASO

Interestingly, the asylum body also notes a drop in the number of applications being made by Western African nationals.  They state that drops in nationals from The Gambia (- 62 %), Senegal (- 46 %), Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire (- 41 % each), Mali (- 38 %) and Guinea (- 26 %), could be linked to a reduction in the amount of irregular migration across the Central Mediterranean route.

Recent findings by the migration research outfit, Xchange.org outlines that although there has been a reduction in migration across the Central Mediterranean Route.

New report explores smuggling in key African migration hub

They have also been looking at the impact of criminalizing of migration in Agadez, Niger, a major migration hub.

Migration crackdown has increased risks and prices for migrants – Xchange Foundation

Niger law cut smuggling, but EU alternatives insufficient – Xchange report

Fewer applications not related to repeated applications

Although the number of applications had fallen, EASO says this only refers to first-time applicants. They state there had been an 11% increase in the number of repeat applications (62,200) from 2017 to 2018.

Credit: EASO

This means that a tenth of all EU+ applications were repeat applications and thus showed fewer applications from new arrivals. A large number of these repeat applications are from Western Balkan nationals. EASO says that one in three applicants from the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia and Serbia,  are making repeat applications.