France registered a little over 100,000 asylum applications in 2017, a „historic“ level
France registered just over 100,000 asylum applications in 2017, a „historic“ level, while the government is preparing a law on immigration already causing lively debates.
„This is a historic level,“ Pascal Brice, Director General of Ofpra (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) told AFP on Monday. There were less than 20,000 applications in 1981, the earliest year for which Ofpra provided data.
These figures should not fail to fuel the heated debate on migration policy.
A draft law on asylum and immigration, prepared by the Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb, must be presented in February in the Council of Ministers. Faced with the concerns of associations for the defense of foreigners and the divisions of the majority, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised in December a „consultation“.
Asylum applications increased by 17% last year, reaching a total of 100,412, following a 6.5% increase in 2016. A „sustained“ increase even if „it is not a massive influx“, has estimated Mr. Brice.
„This confirms that France is in the very first countries of the asylum application in Europe,“ he added, especially behind Germany which expects a little less than 200,000 cases this year.
However, to have an exhaustive vision, we must add to these figures those migrants who have not yet deposited their file at Ofpra. The first stage of the procedure is actually in the prefecture, which examines whether people come from another European country for their application (under the regulation „Dublin“).
In a circular at the end of November, Gérard Collomb estimated that „today, nearly 52% of the applicants“ fell under this „Dublin“ procedure.
In the name of „firmness“, the Minister of the Interior has made the transfer of these migrants one of his priorities (the rate currently stands at 10%), a counterpart to a more „dignified“ reception of refugees.
– „Cyclic“ –
The „agreement rate“, which allows applicants to become refugees, has declined from 38% in 2016 to 36% last year. According to Brice, the decline is due to the situation of nationals like those in Albania.
Last year, the first country of origin of asylum seekers was indeed Albania, with 7,630 requests (excluding accompanying minors), an increase of 66%. As Albania is considered to be of „safe origin“, Ofpra has granted protection only to 6.5% of applicants.
This phenomenon, „cyclical“ and „linked to an economic emigration“ according to Mr. Brice, worries the French and Albanian authorities, who launched this summer an action plan to fight networks of illegal immigration.
As the second country of origin of the claimants, Afghanistan accounted for 5,987 claims (+ 6%), with a protection rate of 83%. But Afghan migrants who arrived in France last year are probably more numerous because of the large number of „dublines“ among them, especially after a visit to Germany.
Next come Haitian nationals (number of files stable at 4.934), because of the still high level of applications in Guyana, then the Sudanese (-24% to 4.486), and Guineans who were 3.780 to seek asylum , a jump of 62%.
There is a strong increase in the number of French-speaking and West African nationals, particularly Ivorians, whose number has more than doubled (3,243) among asylum seekers and nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (+ 15% at 2.941).
„This reflects the phenomenon of crossings via Libya to Europe,“ commented the head of Ofpra.
Despite a very high protection rate (95%), Syrians, who often arrived via resettlement programs, were less likely to seek asylum in France last year, with a drop of 10% to 3,249. requests.
Finally the average waiting time „fell to almost three months,“ said Brice. He assures that Ofpra „continues its efforts to achieve in 2018 the goal of two months“ set by Emmanuel Macron, „in strict compliance with the rights of each applicant“.