23 May 2014

The European Commission has published its fifth Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum providing an overview of migration in the EU in 2013. Recalling the tragic events that took place off the Italian island of Lampedusa on 3 October 2013, in which more than 360 migrants died, and that  at least 600 people are thought to have died at sea in attempt to reach Europe, the Commission affirms the need for the EU to ensure that Europe’s borders are safe and secure with appropriate legal channels for entry. In response to the Lampedusa tragedy, the Task Force Mediterranean was created to identify measures for the prevention of such deaths at sea.

The Commission confirms that Italy received emergency allocations of €23 million under the European Refugee Fund, the External Borders Fund and the Return Fund. Support to Greece, which received €82.7 million from the ERF, RF and EBF, has continued; the Commission, including the Task Force on Greece, will continue to work with Greek authorities on implementation of the revised Greek Action Plan on Migration and Asylum Reform.

The Commission highlights that finalisation of negotiations on the recast Dublin and Eurodac Regulations and on the recast Reception Conditions and the Asylum Procedures Directives and adoption of texts on 26 June 2013 marks a major advancement of the Common European Asylum System.

The Commission notes that the number of asylum applications in the EU has seen a much more significant increase in 2013 than in previous years. A total of 434,160 applications were lodged in 2013, as opposed to 330,000 in 2012.  Syrians made up 12% of the total number of all applicants, while asylum seekers from Russia (10%), Afghanistan (6%), Serbia (5%), Pakistan (5%) and Kosovo (5%) were also numerous. There was no change in the number of unaccompanied children applying for international protection, with 12,425 minors from Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Eritrea seeking asylum. Sweden, Germany, the UK, Austria and Italy received the majority of these children.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 23 May 2014.
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