Asylum Requests Soar in France
Asylum requests in France during 2017 rose considerably according to government data.
The Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) said that in excess of 100,000 people applied for asylum last year in France, which represents a 17% increase over the previous year. Pascal Bruce, who is the director of the agency, indicated that the country was one of the leading destinations for asylum seekers in Europe. He further indicated that they are only dwarfed by Germany, which is expecting to receive upwards of 200,000 asylum applications in the coming year.
Bruce went on to say that France hadn't seen so many asylum seekers in many decades, at the very least. But he believes that the country could deal with the situation.
The most asylum applicants came from citizens of Albania, but because France views the country as safe, it only approved 6.5% of asylum applications. Brice says that, since there were so many asylum requests from Albanians last year, the percentage of asylum requests granted in total went down in 2017, from 38% to 36%.
The second most asylum requests came from those from Afghanistan. As Afghanistan is not as safe as Albania, France accepted 83% of asylum requests from Afghanis. France also saw a stark increase in the number of asylum seekers from French-speaking countries and countries in west Africa. Leading the list are applicants from the Ivory Coast and those from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Currently, OFPRA handles asylum requests within 3 months on average, but French president Emmanuel Macron has stated that he wants to reduce processing time to 2 months.
NGOs have criticized how France treats its asylum seekers. Human Rights Watch has accused France of abusing migrants in Calais. They say that police there have confiscated and destroyed the property of migrants living in a camp that has been called "The Jungle," to dissuade them from living there. In response, President Marcon has promised to visit the area soon to discuss the situation with local leaders.
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