The authorities of the 27 Member States of the European Union and the four countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) received only 8730 asylum applications in April. According to EASO, this is at least since 2008. In January, the countries still registered 65,692 applications.
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Already in March, when individual European countries began to take quarantine measures in the fight against covid-19 and the Schengen area of free movement closed its external borders, the decrease in the number of new asylum applications was noticeable. Only about 35,000 of them were filed in the territory of the 31 states concerned. For the whole of 2019, the EU and EFTA countries received around 714,000 asylum applications.
According to EASO, most applicants came in April from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey. A particularly large drop in the number of applications submitted was recorded by the EU agency for people from Venezuela and Colombia, who had no way to get to Europe due to the cancellation of air transport. Compared to the beginning of this year, the number of applications for Venezuelans in April fell by 98, for Colombians by 99 percent.
However, according to EASO, “there is no indication that the demand for international protection is declining”. By contrast, European countries “should prepare in the medium term to increase the number of asylum applications, including those related to the impact of covid-19 on poor countries”.