The numbers of Ukrainian migrants are still relatively small — especially compared with the tens of thousands crossing the Mediterranean into Italy from the Middle East and Africa — but they are growing and now account for among the largest group of asylum seekers in several European nations.
“Over the last 10 or 20 years, Ukrainians were essentially not present in the asylum numbers,” said Robert K. Visser, the executive director of the European Asylum Support Office, based in Malta. “That changed substantially and quite suddenly in March of last year.”
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And while asylum seekers from other war-torn countries have seen their applications overwhelmingly accepted in the European Union — 95 percent of Syrians, for instance, and 89 percent of Eritreans get full refugee status — Ukrainians have either seen their applications languish or faced rejection.
In 2014, of the 2,985 Ukrainian asylum applicants whose cases were processed in the European Union, only 150 were granted full refugee status; 2,335 were rejected; and the rest got other forms of protection — an acceptance rate of only 22 percent.
Still, it was better than the flood of immigrants from Kosovo and Serbia who pushed across the border into the European Union in 2014. Without even the justification of the conflict that Ukrainians face, only 8 percent of Kosovars saw their applications accepted, and just 2 percent of Serbs.