Largest  number of asylum seekers since first half of 2001

23/07/2014 15:00

The number of asylum requests has grown dramatically in recent months. In the first six months of 2014, twice as many asylum seekers came to the Netherlands as in the same period last year. In fact, it is the highest number since the first half of 2001. Over the past six months, the number of asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea was notably high, but the number of Eritrean asylum seekers again fell strongly in June relative to April and May.

Nearly six in ten from Eritrea and Syria

During the first six months of this year, 12.3 thousand asylum seekers came to the Netherlands, i.e. twice as many as in the first half of 2013. With 3.7 thousand, Syrians constituted the largest group, followed by Eritreans with 3.5 thousand requests. Together, they accounted for 58 percent of all asylum requests. In previous years, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan were the most important countries of origin.

Asylum seekers by nationality

Asylum seekers by nationality

Substantial reduction Eritrean asylum seekers in June

The number of asylum seekers from Eritrea showed a rather erratic pattern over the first half of 2014. In Eritrea, people are persecuted on a large-scale for their political and religious convictions. As a result, the number of asylum seekers from Eritrea to EU countries began to rise strongly in mid-2013. Initially, most Eritrean asylum seekers travelled to Sweden and Germany. Partly due to the activities of human traffickers, unexpectedly large numbers of asylum seekers from Eritrea came to the Netherlands in April and May 2014. As a result of the high number of asylum requests, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice announced steps in May to control the influx. In June, only 200 Eritreans came to the Netherlands.

The number of Syrian asylum seekers has risen continually over the past months and 900 requests for asylum were submitted in June. The number of Syrian asylum seekers is related to the civil war which is ravaging the country.

Asylum seekers by month

Asylum seekers by month

Influx asylum seekers depends on situation in the country of origin and immigration policy in country of destination
The numbers of asylum seekers from five important countries of origin have shown various peak levels since 2007. Apart from the high numbers from Syria and Eritrea in 2014, many people arrived from Iraq in 2008 and from Somalia in 2009. Although high numbers of asylum seekers are nearly always connected to unstable political situations, the immigration policy of the country of destination also plays a part. The number of asylum seekers from Somalia and Iraq in the period 2008-2010, for example, was partly the result of policy changes, like the protection policy for special categories which applied to these countries at that time in the Netherlands.

Asylum seekers since 2007

Asylum seekers since 2007

John de Winter and Arno Sprangers