First-time asylum claims rose to near pre-pandemic highs in France in 2022, with over 137,000 migrants applying for international protection in the country that year.
Authorities in France have reported that asylum claims in France spiked in 2022 after a lull over the COVID pandemic, with just over 137,000 migrants claiming international protection in the country for the first time last year.
Other EU countries have reportedly seen considerable spikes, with Germany seeing its highest number of asylum claims since the 2016 migrant crisis, while even Ireland — an island nation to the far west of the European continent — has struggled to deal with the wave of foreign arrivals.
According to the data released by the French Ministry of the Interior on Thursday, 137,046 asylum claims were made in total in 2022, representing a 31.3 per cent increase in the number of asylum claims over 2021. The number is also higher than the provisional numbers put out by the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless people (Ofpra) earlier this month which put the figure at around 131,000.
The number falls just short of the first-time asylum claims made in 2019, which saw asylum claims peak to just over 138,000. However, when including all cases, such as re-examinations, minors, and those applied under the Dublin regulation, it actually surpassed the pre-pandemic record, with a total of 156,103 applications recorded in 2022 compared to 151,283 in 2019.
Afghans were the single greatest population claiming asylum in the country in 2022, with 22,570 migrants in total claiming to be from the now Taliban-run nation seeking international protection in the country.
Bangladesh was the second largest supplier of migrants, with just over 10,554 people claiming asylum from the country, while there were also a significant number of applicants by migrants from Turkey, Georgia, Albania and Nigeria.
Despite the record numbers, some authorities in France are seemingly trying to give the impression that they are getting on top of the crisis by increasing deportations.
According to a report by Le Figaro, the country’s Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, took to Twitter to brag about the increasing number of migrants being deported from France, which reportedly increased by 15 per cent over last year.
“In accordance with my instructions, priority has been given to delinquent foreigners: 3,615 delinquent foreigners were deported in 2022, compared to 1,834 in 2021,” he claimed, noting that this was “twice as many” as last year.
However, a 15 per cent rise is not all that impressive considering overall asylum claims saw an over 30 per cent increase, largely wiping out any gained ground made by the French government assuming a similar proportion of deportations to asylum seekers as in previous years.
The French government are not the only authorities that now seem to be aiming to look tough on the issue of immigration, with even the European Commission in Brussels pushing for a bloc-wide increase in migrant removals.
With the likes of France, Germany, Ireland and many others seeing a significant uptick in asylum claims in 2022, the Commission has demanded that the EU unites to increase the number of migrants deported from the bloc annually.
“We are experiencing now an increase of irregular arrivals,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson remarked during a press conference earlier this week, describing the latest migrant surge as endangering the EU’s ability to look after real refugees.
“Of course, those that are not eligible to stay in the European Union have to be returned to their country of origin,” she concluded.