Migration agency concerned by high rejection rate for Afghan asylum seekers
More than half of Afghan nationals applying for international protection in Belgium in 2022 had their applications rejected, according to the annual report of federal migration agency Myria. However, the risk of mistreatment if a person returns to Afghanistan remains high, the agency said on Wednesday.
Afghans have been the largest group of asylum seekers in Belgium for several years. Last year, 5,700 Afghans filed an initial asylum application in Belgium, representing 18 per cent of the total claims.,The situation in the country has become more dangerous for many people since the Taliban took power in 2021, and the country is suffering an economic and humanitarian crisis.
At 56 per cent, Belgium’s rejection rate for Afghan asylum seekers is almost 10 percentage points higher than the EU average.
The Immigration Office investigates a person’s risk of suffering degrading or inhuman treatment before deciding whether to issue an order to leave the country. According to Myria, that examination is not always carried out thoroughly. It is calling for legal and procedural safeguards to ensure investigations are systematic and individualised.
The agency is also calling for the practices put in place for Ukrainians fleeing in the aftermath of the Russian invasion to be applied to all asylum seekers. In March 2022, Ukrainians were granted temporary protection status in Belgium, while Myria points to a contrast in the approach to other asylum seekers.
Its report warns of “a possible polarising effect to which temporary measures targeting a specific group of people can contribute” and advises the authorities to be as inclusive as possible to all asylum seekers, in their language and policy measures.
In 2022, a total of 32,219 people made their first application for asylum in Belgium. Afghans and Syrians are the most represented in the figures, followed by Burundians.
An unidentified man at a makeshift camp at Place Flagey, Brussels © BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM