The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has declared that Afghans make up the largest number of asylum applications to the EU, according to a press release published by the organization.
The number of applications spiked 38% from July 2021 to October 2021 for a total of over 10,000 applications. Further, Afghans had not been the largest group for asylum applications in 7 years, where Syria has been the top country of origin.
“According to analysis released by EASO in October 2021, in August 2021 applications by Afghans in the EU+ increased significantly (+38 % from July) to just over 10 000, and Afghans became the largest group of applicants for the first time on record. However, this level of Afghan applications corresponded to only about one quarter of the all-time high, which had occurred in November 2015. This made Afghanistan the main country of origin in August 2021, which Syria had previously been in every month for the last seven years,” the press release reads.
The spike in asylum applications is due to a worsening situation in Afghanistan among the exit of the US and NATO from the country and Taliban takeover of the government. As the US suddenly pulled out of Afghanistan, the rest of NATO had to follow, creating a power vacuum that allowed for the nearly instant dissolution of the Afghan government and subsequent hostile takeover by the Taliban.
There are several groups that are most at-risk of violence and persecution, according to the press release.
One group is those that have held central positions in the Afghan military, government, and law enforcement. This group also includes those that have worked for foreign governments, such as the US, UK, French, or German governments during the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.
Other groups include journalists, media workers, humanitarian workers, and human rights workers.
A chief concern mentioned by EASO, however, is the present and future danger posed to girls and women in Afghanistan that are at extreme risk of persecution for previously holding any public position, position of power, or being educated in any formal capacity.
“The Taliban takeover is likely to further negatively impact the situation of women and girls in the country. Issues such as girls’ education and the persecution of women who are considered to have a public role in Afghanistan, such as a position in the former government, law enforcement, education, healthcare, NGOs, or media, are among the significant concerns highlighted in the document,” the press release reads.
As such, EASO also published guidance for Member States for processing their asylum applications. The guidance is centered around the groups listed above with the main concern being women and girls and recommends tending to the most at-risk groups first.
EASO is an organization set up to assist Member States to fulfil their humanitarian obligations as they relate to migration and asylum.