Asylum applications made by Ukrainians applying for refuge in the EU increased by 72% from January 2021 to February 2021, according to an announcement published by The European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
This increase in applications makes Ukrainians rank in the top ten nationalities of applicants, which has only been exacerbated by other top nationalities of applicants, which have dropped since the Covid-19 crisis began.
“Ukrainians lodged considerably more asylum applications in the EU+ in February 2021, compared to January, making them one of the top ten nationalities of applicants. This is in stark contrast with several other main nationalities, who are still lodging far fewer asylum applications in the EU+ compared to pre-COVID-19 levels,” the announcement reads.
Asylum applications made by Ukrainians to the EU peaked in 2015 and 2016 following the beginning of war with Russian mercenaries and Russia-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas Region of Ukraine.
War with these groups was sparked when Russia annexed the Ukrainian Crimea Peninsula. Since March 2014 there has been sustained conflict in Ukraine that has divulged into trench warfare.
Recently there has been an uptick in Russian aggression towards Ukraine, with abnormal military movements near the border between the two countries and renewed fears of another Russian invasion of the former Soviet country.
As a result, Ukrainians have been applying for refuge in the EU in an attempt to escape the war that they believe is likely to come to their doorsteps.
Russia has showed no intention of backing down from their aggression towards Ukraine and has so far denied any involvement. Russian military actions have only intensified in recent months.
EASO is the EU’s authority for providing data on asylum in the EU as well as assisting Member States to fulfill their quotas for helping people find refuge within the EU. In addition, EASO assists legislators in the bloc to design policy around asylum and refuge by providing evidence-based input.
The top origin countries for asylum applications in February 2021 were Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Nigeria. Syrian applications alone accounted for a quarter of all asylum applications processed in the EU.
Moroccans, Malians, and Senegalese applications also spiked in numbers in February with Moroccan applications going up 14%, Malian applications increasing 22%, and Senegalese applications rising 22% in February 2021 compared to January 2021.
The EU issued nearly 41,000 first-instance decisions on applications in February 2021, leading the recognition rate in the EU to be 32% that month. 3 out of 5 positive decisions were granted refugee status in the EU, and the remainder were granted subsidiary protection, according to the announcement.