Europe welcomes Ukrainian refugees with an asylum system that averages more than 15 months of delay

European Data Journalism Network

Ukrainian refugees now arrive under the aegis of the ultra-fast special protection system, but regular reception centres are piling up hundreds of thousands of applications and rejecting many.

“The breakdown is brutal,” says Virginia Álvarez, spokesperson for Amnesty International in Spain and immigration expert, of the asylum reception system in Europe, which is now preparing to receive millions of Ukrainian refugees. That breakdown can be translated into numbers: at the end of 2021, European Union (EU) member states had more than 761,000 asylum applications pending resolution. How much is that? Well, considering that in December they received just over 60,000 applications in total, it’s quite a backlog. Those 761,000 pending files are equivalent to the number of applications made in the last 15 months. That same asylum system must now handle a good portion of the almost 4 million refugees who, according to United Nations data, have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022.