Following the temporary suspension of processing applications for international protection from Russian citizens, the Office of the General Commissioner for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) in Belgium will resume processing cases for Russian citizens starting February 19.
The CGRS is responsible for evaluating whether applicants for international protection require such protection, and it does so following the definitions outlined by law and international treaties about refugees and international protection.
As the authority explains, for those holding Russian passports seeking to travel to Belgium, requirements include a passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay and proof of onward travel from Belgium.
35,507 Applications for International Protection Were Registered in Belgium in 2023
In 2023, the Immigration Office (IO) received a total of 35,507 applications for international protection, including 284 individuals who arrived in Belgium as part of resettlement efforts. This marks a slight decrease from the previous year, with 36,871 applications filed in 2022, reflecting a 3.7 per cent decline.
Data provided by the CGRS revealed that monthly application numbers fluctuated throughout the year, with the first seven months consistently below 3,000 applicants, followed by a steady increase from July to December, reaching a peak of 3,740 applicants in October.
On average, 2,959 applicants were registered per month in 2023, compared to 3,073 in 2022. A total of 67.6 per cent of applicants were male, with certain countries like Afghanistan exhibiting even higher proportions of male applicants (89 per cent).
Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Turkey, and Eritrea were among the main countries of origin for applicants in 2023.
Afghanistan & Moldova Experienced High Proportions of Subsequent Applications Last Year
Moreover, 5,918 individuals filed subsequent applications for international protection in 2023, representing an increase in subsequent applications compared to the previous year (16.7 per cent in 2023 compared to 12.6 per cent in 2022).
Thus, countries such as Afghanistan and Moldova maintained significantly high proportions of subsequent applications (31.8 per cent and 32.9 per cent, respectively).
Further data from CGRS shows that last year, the Immigration Office recorded 2,594 applications for international protection from individuals who identified as unaccompanied foreign minors, marking a notable decrease of 32.7 per cent compared to 2022.
Following assessments conducted by the Guardianship Service, 1,660 individuals were provisionally recognized as minors, although not all assessments have been finalized.
Among those who declared themselves as unaccompanied foreign minors, a majority of 87 per cent were boys. The top three countries of origin for these minors were Afghanistan (26 per cent), Eritrea (18 per cent), and Syria (15 per cent).