Exactly one year ago, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan years later drove tens of thousands of Afghan citizens into mass exodus, who feared that their lives would be worse under the Taliban.
According to Eurostat, the European Union (EU) Statistical Institute, the number of Afghans who applied for asylum in the EU nearly doubled in September 2021 after the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul on 15 August 2021.
In July 2021, a month before the Taliban rule, 6,500 Afghans applied for asylum to European Union countries. A month later, in September, this number increased to 14,400.
Although the number of asylum applications made by Afghans showed a decreasing trend in the first 6 months of this year, it increased considerably compared to the same period of the previous year.
In 2021, asylum applications doubled compared to the previous year.
On the other hand, after the Taliban rule, fewer applications were made compared to the years 2015-2016, when the instability in Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban were experienced. More than 360,000 Afghans applied for asylum in the European Union in these two years, when there were also intense waves of migration from Syria.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan made the highest number of asylum applications to Germany among European countries.
According to Eurostat data, a total of 23,940 asylum applications were made to Germany by Afghans between August 2021 and April this year.
Germany was followed by France in second place, with 13,730 Afghans applying for asylum in this country for the first time in the same period.
On the other hand, according to Eurostat, no asylum applications were made to Hungary, Malta and Liechtenstein.
Germany was the country that received the most applications among EU countries, but Slovenia was the country that received the most asylum applications in proportion to its population. Since the Taliban came to power last year, there have been 128 asylum applications per 100,000 people in Slovenia.
According to the ratio of Afghan asylum applications to the population, Austria followed Slovenia. In Austria, 107 applications were made per 100 thousand people. In Bulgaria, which followed it, 105 applications were made per 100 thousand people.
Germany and France, which received the most Afghan asylum applications, were the 9th and 14th European Union countries, respectively, receiving the highest number of asylum applications relative to their populations.
Asylum applications from Afghanistan to Europe increased after the Taliban seized power. What about the responses to asylum applications?
European Union countries started to respond more positively to asylum applications after the Taliban administration. Accordingly, while the acceptance rate of asylum applications was 57 percent between January and June 2021 before the Taliban, this rate increased to 67 percent between July and September 2021.
In October and December, which is the third quarter of the year, the positive response rate to the applications reached 88 percent, and decreased to 81 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Catherine Woollard, Secretary General of the European Council for Refugees and Exiles, says there are “serious concerns” about Afghan refugees in Europe.
Stating that Afghans wait longer to receive a response to their applications compared to asylum seekers from other countries, Woollard states that there are significant differences in protection rates among EU countries.
According to Eurostat data, there were a total of 97,960 Afghan asylum applications pending in April.
Woollard states that Afghan refugees have been severely affected by violence at EU borders, pushback policies and other efforts to block the crossing.
Woollard said that the number of Afghan refugees is much less and manageable than refugees from Ukraine. “Judging the response to the war in Ukraine, Europe can manage displacement crises and support refugees when it makes decisions.” he speaks.