Latin Americans lodge far fewer applications for asylum in the EU+

(Source: European Asylum Support Office)

Asylum applications from six main origin countries in Latin America have fallen strongly since August 2020, possibly because of fewer flight connections to the EU+ and increased movements towards the United States.

Analysis released by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on asylum trends in April 2021 shows that about 36 800 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+ in April 2021.1  This was significantly fewer than in March (- 8 %) and the lowest level since last summer.

Apart from Syrians lodging fewer applications in April, the largest declines occurred for Venezuelans and Colombians. This reinforced a persistent downward trend of applications by Latin Americans. From 9 000 in August 2020, total applications by nationals of Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, Peru, El Salvador and Nicaragua have steadily fallen to 2 100 in April, for unclear reasons. The decline also contrasts with developments at the southwest border of the United States.2 One factor may be that travel links to the EU+ have remained scarce. This may have prompted a redirection of migration towards the United States, possibly supported by expectations of changing U.S. policies.

Venezuela and Colombia no longer among the main origin countries

The top origin countries in April were Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria. For the first time since early 2018 (except April/May 2020), neither Venezuela nor Colombia was among the 10 main origin countries. In contrast, Malians (950) lodged the most applications since late 2017 and joined the 10 main origin countries for the first time in seven years. Moroccans (910) remained among the main applicant nationalities. The high levels of applications not only by Malians and Moroccans but also by Senegalese and Gambians might partially reflect irregular migration on the Western African route to the Canary Islands. Applications by Belarusians (220) were close to peak values in previous months.

More applications (1 500) were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors in the EU+ in April 2021. They represented 4 % of the total applications in April, compared to 3 % so far this year. The increase primarily reflects more applications by unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, who are by far the largest group.

Decisions issued by EU+ asylum authorities remain high

EU+ asylum authorities issued 50 000 first instance decisions in April, down from the peak in March but more than in previous months. As in March, about one in four first instance decisions concerned a repeated application, most of which had been lodged by Syrians. First instance decisions in April continued to far exceed applications.

The high level of decisions resulted in a slight fall of pending cases: some 364 100 cases were pending at first instance at the end of April, down by 6 % from the end of March. The recognition rate3 in the EU+ was 27 % in April 2021. Recognition rates were especially high for Eritreans (77 %) and Yemenis (74 %) but unusually low for Syrians (39 %) due to low recognition of their repeated applications.

For more information and an interactive data visualisation, please visit the Latest Asylum Trends page.

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