EU releases data revealing that nearly a quarter of first-time asylum applicants in 2023 were minors News
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EU releases data revealing that nearly a quarter of first-time asylum applicants in 2023 were minors

The European Commission released statistics on first-time asylum applicants for 2023 on Monday showing that minors (individuals under 18 years old) constituted 24.3 percent of these applicants, excluding data from France, Poland, and Cyprus.

Earlier this year, Eurostat reported a 20 percent rise in first-time asylum applications in the EU for 2023, with the total reaching approximately 1.049 million. This number is the third-highest annual figure since the 2015 and 2016 peak amid the Syrian civil war.

Notably, children represented 254,900 first-time claims filed in 2023. Of these, 17 percent of applications were from unaccompanied minors.

According to Eurostat’s data, Austria recorded the highest proportion of child asylum seekers at 34.5 percent of all applications, closely followed by Luxembourg and Hungary at 34.4 and 33.3 percent respectively. However, the highest percentage of unaccompanied minors among first-time applicants was registered in Bulgaria at 17.2 percent, followed by the Netherlands and Austria. Overall, 120,915 minors received protection status in the last year. 

In 2023, the majority of underage asylum seekers in the EU came from Asia, accounting for 44.4 percent of all applications, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan. Minors from non-EU European countries such as Türkiye and Russia, comprised 20.2 percent of the applications. Children from Africa, predominantly from Somalia and Eritrea, also formed a notable group at 19.8 percent. Additionally, 14.4 percent of the underage asylum applicants in the EU came from the Americas, with the majority being Venezuelan and Colombian.

As defined in Article 2 of Directive 2011/95/EU,  the term asylum “applicant” refers to third-country individuals who have sought international protection or have been included as family members in such applications within an EU member state. First-time applicants are those who have submitted an application for protection for the first time in an EU member state. “International protection” as defined under Article 2(h) of the directive encompasses both refugee and subsidiary protection status. 

Moreover, the statistics on first-time asylum applicants also consider individuals covered under the EU’s Dublin Regulation (Regulation 604/2013/EU). This regulation aims to expedite the processing of applications by assigning responsibility to one EU member state based on factors such as family links, recent possession of a visa or residence permit from an EU member state and the manner of entry into the EU, whether regular or irregular.

The recent surge in first-time asylum applicants has emerged as a focal point of discussion within the EU. This influx has underscored challenges such as a lack of housing and stress on the EU’s external borders, leading to the adoption of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum earlier this month by the EU parliament. It is aimed at establishing new rules on managing migration while establishing a common asylum system within the EU including secure external borders, fast and efficient asylum procedures, an effective system of solidarity and responsibility within the EU and international partnerships to fight illegal smugglers and promote legal pathways.