How many are coming, and from where?

During the first 9 months of 2017, only 2,597 people have applied for asylum in Denmark, and 1,742 cases have been opened. This is around 300 per month: the lowest number in 6 years, and a steep fall compared to the previous years. Read more about the reasons why fewer refugees are coming to Denmark

At the same time, the percentage of people who are granted asylum, has dropped significantly: from 85% in 2015 to 27% for the second quarter of 2017. So far, 2,287 have been granted asylum this year, but almost all of them have arrived before 2017.

Also, Denmark has not accepted the 500 resettlement refugees from the UNHCR that we normally receive every year. However, in August this year there were still 6,100 people accommodated in the asylum camps, 20% have pending asylum cases with Immigration Service, 52% with Refugee Appeals Board and 13% are in deportation phase (rejected).

Approximately 65 people arrive every week at the moment. It is surprising that the numbers have not risen after Sweden stopped the ID control at Copenhagen airport in the first week of May. If you avoid the random control on the border from Germany, you are free to pass through Denmark again and seek asylum in Sweden. It seems that this information has not yet reached the newcomers in Europe.

Last year

In 2016, 6,235 applications for asylum were submitted (the gross number). 12,710 cases were opened (registration number) – this number is higher than the gross number because many entered during the end of 2015 and did not get their case considered until 2016. Normally the registration number will be lower than the gross number, as a considerable part are sent back to other countries under the Dublin regulation, and therefore will not have their case decided in Denmark.

The record ever was October 2015 when 3,694 new applications were filed in one month.

The rise that Denmark experienced 2014-2016 was actually much higher in other parts of Europe, and it must be seen in the light of the highest number of refugees in the world ever. In 2015 more than 1 mio refugees came to Europe, which is twice as much as the year before. There are still many coming, especially to Italy and Germany.

In total, 80,000 people got a residence permit in Denmark in 2016, and only one out of nine was a refugee. The others got permits because of work, studies or family reunification.


Who is seeking asylum in Denmark?

The balance in nationalities applying for asylum in Denmark has changed quite a lot from 2015 to 2017. Since 2013, Syrians have made up the largest part, but over the summer of 2016 Afghans outnumbered them. In 2014, Eritrean ws suddenly No 2 on the list, dropping to No 8 in 2016. In the fall of 2015 we saw a sudden and short rise in the number of Iranians.

In July 2017, the top 5 nationalities were: Syria, Iran, Eritrea, Morocco, Afghanistan.

The percentage who is granted asylum has decreased from 85% in 2015 to 72% in 2016, and is down to 33% in 2017. This is due to the nationalities of the applicants, where the tendency is fewer from Syria and Eritrea, who will all get asylum, to more from Afghanistan, Morocco and other countries where the majority will get a rejection.

41% of the asylum seekers in 2016 were children under 18 years. The percentage of unaccompanied minors was rising since autumn 2015, but has dropped again. In july 2017 16% of the asylum seekers were unaccompanied minors. The fact that Morocco and Algeria are suddenly high on the list is due to many of the unaccompanied coming from those two countries.



Main routes to Denmark

One of the reasons why there are now relatively more migrants arrive from Africa and fewer from the Middle East is the introduction of several border control operations in the Aegean, police actions against smugglers in Turkish coastal regions and the construction of a 800 km long concrete wall in the area between Suruc and Kobane.

Although, on average, between 2,000 and 4,000 boat migrants still sail from Turkey to Greece each month, compared to 2015 and 2015 this still means that relatively more arrivals from especially West Africa and Sub Sahara come via Libya. However, there are also some Syrians, who travel through Libya and cross the sea to Italy. It is a much more dangerous route, how many die in the desert of Sahara and drown in the Mediterranean.

The instability and violence in Libya means that the decade-long tradition of African and Asian labor migration to the country has been destabilized, and many no longer dare to stay there for work. At the same time, European actors increasingly collaborate with Libyan authorities and with several decentralized militias on border control and the containment of migrants in camps, before they can travel across the Mediterranean. This has made the situation of migrants in Libya even more dangerous. Several have therefore attempted to travel over lesser known routes, such as Egypt and Tunisia to Italy, but these have also resulted in massive drowning tragedies.

Those who succeed in coming to Europe meet new obstacles. Those trying to travel from Italy, across Austria, and north towards Germany and Scandinavia, are now being stopped at the Brenner Pass, the Alpine border between Italy and Austria. Since August 2017 about 1,000 migrants are stopped and returned every month by Austrian military, while Italian police have also upgraded the control of passenger ships to the north. In the fall of 2017, a few hundred also tried to sail to the Mangalia harbor in Romania via the old and dangerous route over the Black Sea.

Read a personal story of a journey from Eritrea to Denmark: The road to freedom goes through Hell.