Asylum applications from Turkish citizens in EU see 494 percent rise over past 12 years

PHOTO: The Local

There has been a 494 percent rise in the number of asylum applications in EU countries from Turkish citizens over the past 12 years, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday, citing data from Eurostat for 2008-2020.

While only 2,815 Turkish citizens sought asylum in EU countries in 2008, this figure rose to 13,905 in 2020, a 494 percent increase.

Turkish citizens are among the top asylum seekers in EU countries, ranking seventh in a list of countries whose citizens sought asylum in the EU in 2020, according to the report.

Asylum applications filed by Turkish citizens constituted around 3.4 percent of all applications with the EU in 2020.

The data showed asylum applications from Turkey spiked in 2016 when 9,675 Turkish citizens sought asylum in the EU, compared to 3.925 in 2015.

Thousands of people had to flee Turkey in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016, following which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched a widespread crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. These people, some of whom had to flee the country illegally by way of the Aegean Sea or Evros River land border because their passports had been canceled under state of emergency measures taken by the government, applied for asylum in Europe and other countries.

Asylum applications from Turkish citizens peaked in 2019 with 23,420 applications.

According to the report, 471,300 asylum applicants applied for international protection in the EU Member States in 2020, down by 32.6 percent compared with 2019.

“This decrease can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions implemented by the EU Member States,” the report said.

The applications filed with EU countries peaked in 2015 with some 1.2 million applications.

“Afghans accounted for 10.6% of the total number of first-time asylum applicants, Venezuelans for 7.3%, Colombians for 7.0%, while Iraqis and Pakistanis for 3.9% and 3.8%, respectively,” the report said.

In 2020 Germany was the most popular country among asylum seekers, receiving 25 percent of all applications filed with EU countries. Germany was followed by Spain (21 percent), France (20 percent) and Greece (9 percent).

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