Rejected but remaining: Analysis of the protection challenges that confront rejected asylum seekers remaining in Europe
Following the 2015 peak in arrivals of refugees and other migrants to Europe, the number of overall asylum applications doubled. While the number of positive decisions gradually increased in line with the rise in applications, the increase in the number of negative decisions was significant.
Although the total number of people returned did increase substantially in 2016, a large number of rejected asylum seekers remain in Europe.
Less attention is paid to what happens to asylum seekers once rejected, despite the fact that these individuals face similar vulnerabilities to those still claiming asylum. The objective of this briefing paper is to draw attention to the protection challenges that rejected asylum seekers are confronted with. It will also provide an indication of the number of rejected asylum seekers who remain in Europe by looking at Eurostat data, whilst also highlighting the limitations and discrepancies within this data.
The paper is structured into three sections. The first section will outline the rate of rejection and return. The specific data analysed with regards to return concerns all those individuals who are registered as having left Europe via one form or another: this may be by means of forced return, assisted return, or departing spontaneously without assistance. The objective here is not to analyse the way in which return happens, but rather to gain an understanding of the discrepancies between rejected asylum seekers who have left and those that remain. This section will also explain the delays in implementing voluntary and forced return. The second section analyses the different situations faced by three broad categories of rejected asylum seekers: those who await a final return decision; those who cannot be returned; and those who likely remain in Europe but who have disappeared and are unaccounted for.1 It will draw attention to the human rights deprivations and humanitarian needs that rejected asylum seekers are confronted with. The paper concludes by providing policy recommendations and ideas for further research.