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Afghan Exodus: Afghan asylum seekers in Europe (1) – the changing situation

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Author: Thomas Ruttig

In 2016, Afghans remained the second-largest group both of migrants seeking protection in Europe and of those formally applying for asylum. Meanwhile, numbers of arrivals – both in general and in terms of Afghans – have dropped significantly, compared with the peak in late 2015, as European countries have since made getting, staying and integrating there more complicated. Numbers of asylum applications widely differed between European countries. Furthermore, the EU and individual member states put agreements in place with the Afghan government that allow “voluntary” and “enforced” returns of larger numbers of rejected asylum seekers. In this first part of a three-part dispatch, AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig looks at the latest figures and trends as well as changes in policy and social climate that impacted the situation for Afghan asylum seekers in Europe. This will be followed by an overview of the situation in a number of individual European countries (part 2) and a case study on Germany, the largest recipient country in Europe for refugees (part 3). The last part will also draw some conclusions.