First-time asylum applications in EU up 20% in 2023 y/y

In 2023, 1 048 900 first-time asylum applicants (non-EU citizens) applied for international protection in EU countries, up by 20 per cent compared with 2022 (873 700), European Union statistics agency Eurostat said on March 25.

After a considerable drop in 2020 (417 100), the numbers increased for three consecutive years almost reaching the peaks registered in 2015 and 2016 (1 216 900 and 1 166 800) following the war in Syria.

In Bulgaria, there were 22 390 first-time asylum applicants in 2023, up from 20 260 in 2022, from 10 890 in 2021, from 3460 in 2020 and 2075 in 2019.

Syria has been the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU since 2013.

In 2023, Syrians lodged 183 000 first-time applications (17 per cent of the total number of first-time applications in the EU). 

Afghanistan was the second main country of citizenship for the six consecutive year (100 900, or 10 per cent of the EU total). 

Applicants from Türkiye accounted for nine per cent of the EU total with 90 000 applications and those from Venezuela and Columbia each represented six per cent with 67 100 and 62 000 applications.

With 329 000 first-time asylum applicants registered in 2023, Germany continued to be the EU country with the highest number of applicants, accounting for almost one third of all first-time applicants in the EU (31 per cent).

It was followed by Spain (160 500, 15 per cent) and France (145 100, 14 per cent), ahead Italy (130 600, 12 per cent). These four EU members together accounted for almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of all first-time asylum applicants in the EU last year.

Compared with the population of each EU country, the highest number of registered first-time asylum applicants in 2023 was recorded in Cyprus (13 first-time applicants per 1 000 people), ahead of Greece and Austria (each 6).

In 2023, in the EU, there were two first-time asylum applicants per 1000 people. In Bulgaria, the figure was three per 1000 people, according to Eurostat.

(Main photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

The Sofia Globe staff

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