The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) has published its 2020 annual report which includes updated data on the statelessness determination procedure (SDP).
For the second year in a row the number of applicants to the SDP declined. In 2020, 298 new applications were filed, a drop of 9% compared to 2019, while the applications recorded in 2019 represented a 22% decrease compared to the previous year. Before this the number of applications had been rising since 2012.
The share of applications submitted by people coming from Europe, who usually form the majority, fell from 43% to 37%. The applicants tend to come from the former USSR, former Yugoslavia, and Italy. The share of applicants from Africa has fallen from 42% to 38% while the number of applicants from Asia has increased from 13% to 23%.
People of Sahrawi origin are still the largest group applying to the SDP (23% of applicants) despite a slight decrease and most already hold statelessness status in Spain. Palestinians from Lebanon are the second most numerous group (15% of applicants) and most filed applications in Guyana after submitting an asylum claim. The share of people from the former USSR still represents 10% of requests followed by people from the former Yugoslavia (9%). OFPRA points out that the applications lodged by people born in Italy, Germany or France largely come from Roma communities with family links to countries of the former Yugoslavia. Finally, OFPRA recorded the emergence of a new pattern of applications filed by people from Madagascar who are members of the Karan community.
In 2020, 317 decisions were issued by OFPRA, 48 of which were positive. The recognition rate is stable at 15% after a drop recorded in 2019. 74 adults who applied for international protection were granted the status of "stateless-refugees". 343 people were invited for an interview and 259 interviews were held (76% attendance compared to 68% in 2019). As of 31 December 2020, 1,606 stateless persons were protected by OFPRA, 34% of whom were women.
Photo: Cover of OFPRA, Rapport d'activité de l'OFPRA, 2020