01 March 2016
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EU policy on which refugees should be given international protection and relocation within the EU has changed numerous times since last year. In autumn 2015, the agreed policy was to recognise people coming from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea - based, then, on a 75% recognition rate in Eurostat statistics. This changed in practice in January to offering relocation to refugees from Syrai, Iraq and Afghanistan - countries where there are ongoing conflicts. Then in February, under pressure from Germany and Austria, Macedonia and Serbia only accepted refugees from Syria and Iraq - turning back those from Afghanistan. Yet EU institutions and Member States "are aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed," as a leaked document from the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) reveals.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "It is a policy made 'on the hoof' rather than through formal process; it is an indefensible policy based on unprincipled self-interest. More shame on the EU."
See: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan - Country Fiche proposing possible leverages across Commission-EEAS policy areas to enhance returns and effectively implement readmission commitments (Doc no: 6738-16, 3 March 2016, pdf)
"In 2015 irregular migration of Afghan origin to the EU reached an unprecedented level of around 213,000 persons, making Afghans the second largest group of migrants and asylum-seekers to the EU last year, after the Syrians, followed by the Iraqis. Main countries of destination are Germany and Sweden. Many are unaccompanied minors. It is clear that an important share of these migrants do not come directly from Afghanistan but that they were previously in Iran or Pakistan. The main route to reach Europe is from Turkey, via Greece and subsequently through Western Balkans.
• In 2015 there were 176.900 asylum applications, which is double the number of 2014. The acceptance rate increased from 43% in 2014 to 60% during the second and third quarters of 2015. The positive trend in the asylum application acceptance rate from 2014-2015 is an indicator that Member States are aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed.Despite this, more than 80,000 persons could potentially need to be returned in the near future....
The main push factors are: a deteriorating security situation with record levels of terrorist attacks and civilian casualties (over 11,000 civilian casualties recorded in 2015), compounded by a deteriorating economic situation. Both are likely to grow stronger."
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