Arab Spring displaces over 24,000 people
The dawning of the Arab Spring, particularly after the regime of President Ben Ali toppled, resulted in over 24,000 Tunisians leaving their native country and reaching the costs of Italy. This movement was further heightened by the civil wars in Libya and Syria which caused one of the largest mass movements since the war in Yugoslavia.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published its first 'Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union and on the Activities of the European Asylum Support Office' for 2011, explaining that this displacement of people resulted in people seeking protection in Europe, mainly in Germany.
The report also discussed the western Balkans which continued to account for a constant flow of asylum seekers, with Albania alone being accountable for over 55 per cent of this influx with more than 2800 people transiting the country. The movement form the Balkan states impacted mainly Belgium and Luxembourg, putting the asylum reception systems of both states under duress. This movement had also an impact on Germany and Sweden as well.
The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in January 2011in the case of MSS (an asylum seeker) vs Belgium and Greece, highlighted the shortcomings of the Greek asylum system and caused all Member States to suspend the transfers of applicants to Greece under the "Dublin II" Regulation. May 2011 saw the first Asylum Support Team being deployed by EASO to Greece and other teams were deployed for missions lasting from a few weeks to several months. EASO support to Greece is expected to continue at least until 2013, the report said.
In line with its aim to pre-empt pressures on asylum seeking procedures the EASO has been working towards establishing an Early Warning and Preparedness System which provides outlooks on asylum trends and risk scenarios and supports the preparedness of Member States.
EASO’s Annual report concluded that to enable further interaction between EASO, NGO's and other entities a consultative forum has been established, the first meeting of which was held in Malta in December 2011.