Mapped: What asylum claims tell you about history

The 28 EU countries granted protection status to more than 330.000 asylum seekers in 2015. Half of them were from Syria, according to Eurostat figures.

Nevertheless, not all the EU members receive protection claims from the same countries. Some nationalities use to apply in specific countries. Analysing carefully the data, it is possible to detect old relationships that explain part of the history of both, the country of origin and the country of destination.

This visualisation shows the percentage of people with a given citizenship that have been granted protection status in 2015 as a percentage of the total number of persons granted protection in the same country.

Click on each country to see the data

Syrians, Eritreans, and Iraqis are between the largest groups granted protection status in most of the countries but there are countries with particularities that it’s worth paying attention to.

Cuba and the Czech Republic

Almost 12% of all persons granted protection status in the Czech Republic in 2015 were Cubans.

Although there is no direct flight between Havana and Prague, historical relationships exist between both countries.

As an ex-communist country, the Czech Republic disagrees with the government of Fidel Castro. One of the strongest voices against the regime was the former Czech president Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), who criticised publicly the violation of human rights in Cuba.

The tension between both countries could change soon, as both governments have shown their will to take diplomatic relations to a new level.

Sri Lanka and Switzerland

9% of the total number of persons granted protection in Switzerland in 2015 were from Sri Lanka, the third biggest group after Eritreans and Syrians.

Relations between the two countries date back to the 1980s when the first refugees arrived in Switzerland to escape the civil war.

There are about 55,000 people from Sri Lanka in Switzerland, the largest minority in the country. Between 25,000 and 35,000 belong to Tamils ethnic minority.

Azerbaijan and Croatia

Azerbaijan is the first nationality among people obtaining protection in Croatia, with a 12% of the total.

Croatia and Azerbaijan have close trade, economic and diplomatic relations and that may explain why Azerbaijanis choose Croatia as their preferred choice to try to stay in Europe.

Before Croatia entered the European Union, Azerbaijanis could travel to Croatia and stay for up to 90 days during the tourist season with no visa requirement. EU policies forced Croatia to establish new Visa regulations.

Although Azerbaijan has improved its situation in the last years and has increased its influence in the region, the lack of freedom, poverty and corruption are endemic problems.

Sudan and the UK

Sudan is the first citizenship among all people with protection status in the UK. The explanation of this data is hidden in history books.

Sudan was an Anglo-Egyptian condominium for more than 50 years, until 1953. The UK has always been a country of reference for Sudanese, in good as well as in bad times.

Two cruel, long and bloody civil wars, one of them right after the country’s independence, forced hundreds of people to flee Sudan to escape from the violence. Some of them have tried to start a new life in the UK.

According to the 2011 Census, more than 17,000 people born in Sudan live in England and Wales. The common history and the fact that there is a big Sudanese community in the UK may explain the number of protection claims from Sudanese citizens.

Picture: Muse Mohammed/ International Organization for Migration