Edition 1493
22 September 2018
Edition: 1493

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Asylum - two in three rejected

by Brendan de Beer, in News · 21-06-2018 13:32:00 · 0 Comments

With the celebration this week of World Refugee Day, comes news that Portugal is among the European states which is most likely to reject a request from an asylum seeker. This comes as new figures reveal that the number of migrants seeking refuge in the EU to have dropped by almost half.

Asylum - two in three rejected

According to figures for 2017 released by Asylum Information Database, Portugal rejected around two out of every three asylum requests. Only Poland, France, the UK, Hungary and Croatia were more likely to refuse entry to refugees.
Overall, fewer people sought asylum in the EU last year, with numbers plummeting by 44 percent. The EU’s asylum office counted well over 700,000 applications for international protection in 2017, down on the 1.3 million applications the previous year.
Asylum seekers from war-torn Syria continue to top the list, with numbers also high from other regions in conflict such as Afghanistan and Iraq. The total number of applications in Portugal stood at a lowly 1,250, with around 64 percent being rejected by officials.
However, applicants from Syria had a 94 percent chance of being welcomed in Portugal, while in contrast, citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo saw 97 percent of their applications rejected here in Portugal.
The high number of rejections is being explained here as being the result of two major contributing factors. The first is the strict application of the law by SEF immigration officials when dealing with asylum seekers at the country’s borders, coupled by large numbers who are unable to prove their status is not merely that of an economic migrant.
But Portugal’s President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said on Wednesday, which was also World Refugee Day, that defending refugees around the world is not only imperative in terms of conscience, but an obligation of democratic societies.
According to the head of state, Portugal honours “the values of solidarity, openness and tolerance” and there is a “broad national consensus in Portuguese society on welcoming and integrating refugees.”
This comes as Portuguese officials also said they were actively working with their European partners to increase the number of refugees housed in the country.
Meanwhile, the European Asylum Support Office, according to its 2017 Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union, revealed that provisional data for early 2018 (January - April) shows that application levels have stabilised at an average of less than 50,000 per month.
Throughout 2017, migratory pressure at the EU’s external borders remained high, but decreased for a second consecutive year, mostly on the eastern and central Mediterranean routes, whereas there was an unprecedented upsurge on the western Mediterranean route.
While overall the number of asylum applications registered in 2017 dropped, some countries still noted considerable increases. Syria (15 percent), Iraq (7 percent) and Afghanistan (7 percent) remained the top three countries of origin of applicants in the EU. These were followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea and Iran.
Despite Portugal’s high rejection rate for asylum seekers, the country welcomed close to 47,000 foreigners during the course of 2016. According to these figures released by the OECD, this number is up 24 percent on the previous year, and the highest it has been since 2010.
Overall, just under 400,000 people residing in Portugal in 2016 were foreign nationals, up 2.3 percent on 2015, the OECD said.
Estimates are that half this number is the result of the EU’s policy of free movement within the Union’s borders, including the country’s non-habitual residence scheme, which offers EU nationals an extremely favourable fiscal regime.
Related figures have meanwhile shown that Portugal continued to see its population shrink last year, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years, as migrants offset the drop, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE) estimates, which point to a total of 10,291,027 residents, down by 18,546 compared to 2016.
The result translates into a negative growth rate of 0.18 percent, “continuing the downward trend of population growth.”
INE said the slowing of the population decrease was due to a positive migratory balance (which was up 4,886), after six years of negative growth.
“It is necessary to go back to 2010 to find a positive migratory balance,” a source from INE told Lusa News Agency.
The natural balance (deaths and births) remained negative (minus 23,432), close to that of 2016 (minus 23,409).
The average age of the resident population in Portugal in 2017 was 44.2 years, having increased by about 3.1 years in the last 10 years.

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Edition 1493
22 September 2018
Edition: 1493

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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