The number of asylum applications in the European Union reached 996,000 in 2022, the highest in six years, according to an annual report published by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) on Tuesday.
Most asylum seekers in Europe come from Syria, Afghanistan, Turkiye, Venezuela and Colombia.
The number of Ukrainians who fled their country due to the Russian war was counted in a separate census. Around four million of them live in the European Union, with special temporary protection status.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused forced displacement of unprecedented levels in recent decades in Europe, and added pressure on already-saturated reception systems.
Many of the 27 member states of the European Union, including Italy, Poland and Sweden, are taking increasingly hard stances against irregular migration.
This phenomenon could further worsen due to the halt in economic growth in the EU following the rise in interest rates in an attempt to cope with an ever-high inflation.
The European Union witnessed a peak in irregular migration in 2015 and 2016, during which 2.5 million asylum seekers, many of whom were Syrians, arrived in the European Union.
The EU asylum agency’s statistics comprise the data of the 27 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. These four countries are members of the Schengen Area, along with most of the European Union.
The report was published at a time when the European Union is debating reforms to its asylum and immigration laws.