First-time asylum applications in Cyprus drop 61% year-on-year

First-time asylum applications in Cyprus recorded an annual drop of 61% in May 2023, in comparison with May 2022, a report released by Eurostat on Friday shows.

Specifically, May 2023 saw 1,005 individuals filing for asylum for the first time in Cyprus, a considerable drop from the 2,560 applications recorded in May 2022.

Despite this decline, Cyprus remains the country in the European Union with the most first-time asylum applications relative to its population.

In contrast with Cyprus, the EU as a whole saw a 27% increase in new asylum applications between May 2022 and May 2023.

In the broader context of the EU, a total of 80,375 first-time asylum applications were submitted by non-EU citizens in May 2023. This figure reflects a noticeable uptick from the 63,455 applications lodged in May 2022, signifying a 27% surge.

Comparatively, there were 5,325 subsequent asylum applicants in the EU during the same period. This represents a 16% reduction compared to May 2022’s figure of 6,370.

There is no data on subsequent applicants in Cyprus (as well as in Denmark and Sweden) due to temporary derogations regarding the obligation to report data, Eurostat noted.

Persons from Syria top list of first-time asylum applications

Syrians topped the list of first-time asylum seekers in May 2023, numbering 12,110 applicants, the data show. Afghans followed closely with 7,210 applications, ahead of Venezuelans (7,015) and Colombians (6,745).

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was a surge in first-time asylum applicants from Ukraine, peaking at 12,185 in March 2022 and dropping to 945 by May 2023.

In May 2023, Russian citizens submitted 1,435 first-time asylum applications, ranking 14th among all requests.

Cyprus continues to stand out for its high rate of first-time asylum applications relative to its population. In May 2023, Cyprus registered 1,092 applicants per million people, significantly surpassing other EU countries. Austria came in second with 448 applicants per million people, while Hungary reported the lowest rate at 0.2.

In terms of absolute numbers, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France were the primary destinations for first-time asylum seekers in May 2023, collectively receiving 78% of all such applications in the EU.

The data also highlighted that 3,065 unaccompanied minors sought asylum for the first time in the EU in May 2023. The majority of these minors originated from Afghanistan (985) and Syria (870).

Due to temporary derogations, data on unaccompanied minor asylum applicants for Cyprus and Poland are not available