TBILISI, DFWatch–The number of Georgians who sought asylum in Schengen countries dropped 13 percent in April, compared to the month before, but the small Caucasus nation is still over-represented.
Despite a modest population of 3.7 million, Georgia still ranks among the top ten countries of origin, next to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Nigeria, according to figures from European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
The slight reduction in April comes on the heels of a sharp increase in applicants the last year, as Georgians were included in a visa-waiver system.
In April 2017, just as the new visa-free travel procedure became available, the number was 730. In April the current year, the number had doubled to 1,562. In April 2016, there were 608 Georgian nationals who applied for asylum in Europe.
Georgians are also less likely to have their applications approved, EASO figures show. Only 1.7 percent of applications were granted in March and 1.0 percent in April. Altogether, in April Georgians received 1,271 negative and only 13 positive decisions (the figures were 1,520 and 25 in March, respectively).
The top five countries of origin of applicants in April were Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Nigeria, with the majority lodging more applications than in March. Overall, these citizenships jointly accounted for a third of all applications for international protection lodged in the Schengen area in April. Pakistan, Iran, Eritrea, Albania and Georgia completed the list of the 10 most common citizenships of origin. Nationals of these countries lodged fewer applications than in March. The reduction was most noticeable for Georgia (- 226 or – 13 percent) and Pakistan (- 200 or – 9 percent).