CONTAINED in the 2016 report of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) issued on June 16, the organisation highlighted the fact that more people than ever had applied for refuge in Europe in 2015, yet more draconian measures adopted by European countries have made it more difficult for genuine refugees to find safety.
The number of asylum seekers in Europe doubled in 2015 compared to the previous year, reaching 1,321,600, but of these only just over 300,000 applications were accepted. The decision to close land routes encouraged more people to attempt to enter Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in 3,700 deaths.
The actual process of application for asylum was quite erratic, with Germany receiving nearly half a million, while Spain, despite the increase in refugees, only received just under 15,000 applications (around 1 per cent of the total) which was the highest it had ever received.
The Commission criticised the manner in which many members of the EU were loath to extend the hand of welcome to asylum seekers yet were very quick to vote to return illegal entrants to Turkey in exchange for certain concessions.
It went on to say that the nationalities of the main applicants for asylum in Spain were from Syria, Ukraine and Palestine but only 3,200 applications were completed in the year and of those, 69 per cent were rejected, a much higher figure than the EU average of 50 per cent.
Apart from the very few people allowed to settle in Spain, there was also criticism with the way in which applicants from the Ukraine and Mali were put on hold as it appeared that hostilities in those countries were coming to end.
Finally, the Commission also drew attention to the fact that it was difficult for immigrants to understand asylum procedures and equally important, little was done to help those in Ceuta and Melilla.