The number of first time asylum applicants in the 28 European Union states decreased by a quarter in the last year, to more than half a million people, out of which 1290 were accepted in Hungary, according to data published by Eurostat last week.
Overall, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU is 538,000, while 24,000 refugees have been admitted to the EU either internally or externally. According to statistics from the European Commission’s Statistical Office, compared to the 2016 numbers, the number of asylum seekers in 2017 decreased by almost 25%.
Hungary accepted 1290 asylum claims last year, roughly one third of the total applications submitted (4170), which means 31% of the applications were accepted. In Poland and in the Czech Republic, this rate was lower, while it was the same in Croatia and Great Britain.
The highest number of first time asylum applicants was registered in Germany (325,000) and their approval rate was the highest as well at 51%. Germany was followed by France and Italy.
Citizens of 146 countries sought asylum for the first time in the EU. Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans were the top 3 citizenship of asylum seekers. In Hungary, out of the almost 1300 people, 580 were Afghans, 30% were Syrians (385), and 190 Iraqis.
In the last quarter of 2017, Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary have recorded the largest relative decrease of first time asylum seekers, almost 70%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.
Earlier this year, in an interview with the Times of Malta, Deputy State Secretary Kristóf Altusz responded to questions about Hungary’s stance on migrants and its relationship with the EU claiming that
“last year alone, Hungary took about 1,300 refugees but, very often, such cases were not publicized by the government as it could put the beneficiaries in danger.”
Altusz added that “those requiring refugee status can come to Hungary.”
While these statistics had previously been published on the website of the Office of Immigration and Refugee Issues ), they have caused a huge stir in Hungarian domestic politics due to the fact that they seemingly undercut the Orbán government’s longstanding rhetoric regarding the “dangers” of migrants.
In the past two years alone, the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition has launched several major campaigns around the issue of Europe’s migrant and refugee crisis. The first was a lengthy billboard campaign in 2016 that culminated in a referendum on the EU’s refugee-resettlement quota plan, a vote whose turnout was too low to be deemed legally valid. This was followed in Spring of 2017 by a “National Consultation” questionnaire titled “Let’s Stop Brussels!”, which was likewise targeted at the EU’s migration policy. Similarly, last fall’s controversial “National Consultation” on the so-called “Soros plan” was similarly focused on the question of migration, with a particular focus on the supposed plans of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Hungary was fighting the mandatory quota scheme because it would relocate illegal migrants in the European Union and strip member states of their right to decide who they want to take in. He argued that Hungary’s taking in refugees under the Geneva Convention was a separate matter.
via bruxinfo.hu, ec.europa.eu, Eurostat