Refugee claimants in Hungary and the EU: A statistical overview

According to figures released Thursday by Eurostat, as part of its quarterly report, Germany and Hungary received the most refugees of all member states in the European Union. The number of asylum seekers increased by 86% in the EU. Kosovars formed the single largest group of refugees arriving to EU member states, followed by Syrians and Afghanis. Forty percent of all refugees entered the EU through Germany (a total of 73,000 applicants in the first quarter), while Hungary received the second largest number of asylum seekers–32,800, or 18% of the total arriving in the European Union. Hungary was followed by Italy, France and Sweden. The number of asylum seekers entering Hungary increased by 1,300% over last year.

From a demographic perspective, 70% of all refugee claimants in Hungary were from Kosovo, while 12% came from Afghanistan, 7% from Syria, 2% from Iraq and 2% from Pakistan. Interestingly, from a regional perspective, neighboring countries like Slovakia and Romania are receiving really negligible numbers of refugees. Slovakia, for instance, only had a handful of claimants from Ukraine (and just 65 asylum seekers in total), while Romania had just 160 Syrian applicants (compared to 2,515 in Hungary), and a total of 355 people seeking asylum.

Overall, 46% of asylum seekers in the EU saw their applications accepted by the respective member states, with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy issuing the largest number of positive decisions. Hungary issues very few positive decisions on applications, with Hungarian authorities accepting just 130 applicants in the first quarter. This means that just 10% of all processed refugee applications were accepted by Hungary. Compare this to a 44% acceptance rate in Germany, 73% in Sweden, 52% in Italy or 27% in France.

Asylum-seekers arriving at the borders of the European Union between March 2014 and March 2015. By the first quarter of 2015, Hungary became the country with the second largest number of refugee applications.

Meanwhile, the Serbian government has clearly been taken aback by the decision to fence off the Hungarian border, and are arguing that they too, like Hungary, simply serve as a transit country for migrants heading northwest. “We don’t know what this is all about. We are not guilty and all of a sudden a wall is to be built. We don’t want to live in an Auschwitz”, noted Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s prime minister. A total of 22,000 people have claimed asylum in Serbia between January and May, representing an increase of 600% compared to figures from the same period in 2014. Speaking to the Associated Press, Nikola Kovacevic of the Belgrade Center for Human Rights brought a perspective that the Orbán government would do well to consider, unless their fence is merely a political communications tool. “No wall has ever stopped migrations, they are unstoppable,” said Ms. Kovacevic.

Looking beyond Hungary and even the European Union, the UN’s most recent report on migration shows that 60 million people were displaced in 2014, due to conflict or persecution, representing an 8.3 million increase. While refugees from Kosovo form the bulk of asylum seekers and migrants in Hungary, worldwide the civil war in Syria is contributing most to this growing crisis. Hungary certainly isn’t offering a compassionate response.

June 18, 2015