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AFP
January 22, 2021

France reports 41 percent plunge in asylum requests

World

AFP
January 22, 2021

PARIS: The number of asylum requests dropped 41 percent in France last year as the Covid-19 outbreak and travel restrictions curtailed the number of migrants entering the country, officials said on Thursday.

France’s 38 processing centres reported 81,669 first-time requests, the interior ministry said, ending sharp annual increases since 2015 when hundreds of thousands of people sought out Europe to flee war and misery in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

"It’s a sharp reversal," Julien Boucher, head of the OFPRA immigration agency, told AFP, noting that asylum was granted in 24 percent of cases, a figure that rose to 37 percent including successful appeals.

The coronavirus impact was clear, he added, since requests had continued to increase in early 2020 before the processing centres went into lockdown along with the rest of the country in March.

The decline in French demands was echoed elsewhere in Europe, with Germany reporting a 32 percent drop in asylum requests last year, to just over 76,000. President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to end what he called France’s "lax" approach to immigration, a move some analysts see as an attempt to prevent voters from drifting to the far right.