66% of Syrian Asylum Seekers in EU Don’t Intend to Return to Their Home Country

It pays to keep on top of EU matters if you don't get to see things like this.

More than 10,000 Syrians have applied for international protection in the EU+ during the first two months of 2021, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) notes in the latest Country of Origin Information (COI) report

“Syria: Situation of returnees from abroad” report reveals that during January and February 2021, there were almost 5,000 repeated applications in the same country, marking the highest number of applications since 2016, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The COI report also notes that from September 2020 to February 2021, the figure of applications by Syrians has doubled compared to the previous six-month period.

At the same time, Syrian applications pending at the first trial have reached the 50,400 figure, marking a 38 per cent increase. Over this period, the EU+ recognition rate for Syrians was relatively stable compared to the previous six months, marking an 86 per cent rise.

The report also elaborates on the return of Syrians from Europe, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, noting that 137 Syrians had returned voluntarily to their home country from Denmark in December 2020. In that case, the Danish government, which is home to 35,000 Syrians, granted about £ 22,000 (€25,764) for each returnee.

On the other hand, only ten Syrians living in the Netherlands agreed to return to their home country. 77,000 Syrians are living in the Dutch territory at the moment.

Unlike their counterparts, most Syrian refugees in the EU do not plan to return to Syria in the near future. According to a study carried out by The Day After (TDA), 1,600 Syrian respondents from Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden stated they would not return to Syria unless conditions were stable.

Between February and March 2021, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) survey conducted with 3,201 Syrian respondents living in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq noted that 90 per cent of Syrians would not return to Syria within the next twelve months.

The three main reasons for the lack of interest to return listed by the respondents were lack of livelihood/work opportunities, lack of safety and security, and adequate housing or other housing concerns.

In October 2020, the Turkish Minister of Interior announced that over 414 Syrians had voluntarily returned to Syria from Turkey. However, UNHCR data indicates there were 16,805 voluntary returns from Turkey to Syria in 2020 and 5,124 returns during the first quarter of 2021.

A survey conducted by the Refugee Protection Watch (RPW) in Lebanon among 579 Syrians revealed that 58.4 per cent of the respondents did not enjoy legal residency in the country. Lebanese government organises several group returns, carried out by the General Security Office (GSO) of the Ministry of Interior. Apart from GSO, Hezbollah, a militant Shia movement, also conducts these Syrian group returns, although no return practices are known.

On the other hand, UNHCR recorded 3,466 voluntary returns from Jordan to Syria in 2020 and 1,345 during the first quarter of 2021. Although the Jordan government doesn’t organise group returns for Syrians, cases of forcible returns were reported. Another EASO report reveals that Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis applied the most for EU countries’ asylum during March 2021.

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.