23,737 Turkish nationals sought asylum in Europe last year: EU agency

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A total of 23,737 Turkish nationals sought international protection in EU member states, Norway and Switzerland in 2021, according to an analysis released by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Applications from Turkey for asylum in European countries in 2021 increased by 38 percent compared to 2020, when 15,834 Turkish nationals applied for asylum in European countries.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government since a coup attempt in July 2016. Many have tried to flee illegally as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

According to the EUAA, some 617,800 applications for international protection were lodged last year in EU+ countries, increasing by a third from 2020 and returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The rise in applications was mostly due to more applications by Afghans and Syrians, and both lodged the most applications since 2016, the EUAA said.

Last year self-claimed unaccompanied minors lodged almost as many applications as in 2016. About half of all unaccompanied minors were Afghans.

According to the EUAA, the top countries of origin were Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Bangladesh. Far fewer Latin Americans applied than in 2020, while applications increased for a range of African nationalities.

The number of cases pending at first instance increased during the second half of 2021. At the end of the year, some 442,500 cases were pending at first instance and half of them had been pending for less than six months, the analysis said.

According to the relevant EU directives, a first instance decision is a decision granted by an authority acting as a first instance of the asylum procedure in the receiving country.

The EUAA, based in Malta, supports implementation of the Common European Asylum System by applying a bottom-up approach. Its aim is to ensure that individual asylum cases are dealt with in a coherent way by all member states.

EU+ refers to the 27 European Union member states plus Norway and Switzerland.

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