COI News

Important news from EASO and the world of COI

Our approach to COI news

The News section aims to inform users about recent COI publications or upcoming workshops/conferences. EASO selects information provided in the News section according to its relevance to the COI and asylum fields. EASO welcomes suggestions to insert a particular news (event, publication).

05 February 2019

EASO publishes two COI reports on Iraq: Key socio-economic indicators (Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil) and Internal mobility

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published two Country of Origin Information (COI) Reports on Iraq. One report is titled Key socio-economic indicators (Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil), and the second one Internal Mobility. These reports are part of a series of Iraq reports produced in 2018-2019. They cover actors of protection, key socio-economic indicators in Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil, and targeting of individuals. A security situation report will also be published in early 2019. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Iraqi asylum seekers, and will be used in the development of a country guidance note on Iraq.

Both reports, EASO COI Report: Iraq – Internal mobility and EASO COI Report – Iraq: Key socio-economic indicators, should be read in conjunction with each other.

In 2017Iraq ranked second among the most common countries of origin with more than 52 500 persons applying for international protection in the EU+ countries. In 2018, fewer asylum applications were lodged by Iraqi nationals in EU+ countries. Despite this decrease, Iraq was the third most common country of origin of applicants in the EU+, with close to 42 000 applicants recorded from January to October 2018. At the end of October 2018, around 26 000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The EASO COI Report: Iraq – Internal mobility aims to provide information on legal and practical aspects of mobility in Iraq. The report was drafted by the EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology, and was reviewed by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office’s Centre for Documentation. In addition, the report was reviewed by the external expert Dr Geraldine Chatelard, social anthropologist and historian of contemporary Middle Eastern studies.

The EASO COI report: Iraq – Key socio-economic indicators aims to provide information on key socio-economic indicators in Iraq focusing on Basrah, Erbil, and Baghdad, and highlighting aspects of the situation of IDPs in those areas, as well as women and children. Relevant indicators include the general economic situation, access to employment and livelihoods, poverty, food and water security, housing and living conditions, access to health care, access to education, access to support and assistance, and the role of support networks. The report was co-drafted by the Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic (Department of Documentation and Foreign Cooperation) together with the EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was also reviewed by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office’s Centre for Documentation, and Dr Geraldine Chatelard.

17 January 2019

Lifos report: Turkey - The current situation two years after the attempted coup

The security and political situation in Turkey witnessed gradual changes since the attempted coup in July 2016. The level of violence reportedly subsided in the past two years. The Kurdish dominated region, southeast of the country, remains contentious. Armed confrontations between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdish rebel guerrilla, Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK), have scaled down and are mostly contained to rural areas. Terror attacks also diminished. This is mainly attributed to the government’s stepped up measures against members of the PKK and the so-called Islamic State (IS). Security forces have carried massive nationwide counterterror operations, which resulted in arrests and detention of hundreds of suspects.

Turkey further escalated its military operations in northern Syria and northern Iraq. In January 2018, the Turkish army launched an offensive, code-named Olive Branch, aimed at targeting the Syrian Kurdish forces’, Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG), hegemonic ambitions in the region. In addition, the offensive further seeks to secure a buffer zone (established during operation ‘Euphrates Shield’) along the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey’s observatory role in the de-escalation zones in Idlib has given

President Erdogan another foothold in Syria. Idlib, an eminent target for the Syrian army’s upcoming offensives, hosts tens of thousands of radically-minded rebel fighters, affiliated to various rivaling groups (exp. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), who were previously relocated to the north as a result of the Syrian army’s takeover of earlier rebel-held areas in other parts of the country. Their presence in the Turkish-controlled demilitarization zone in northwestern Syria increases the fragility of the region, especially Idlib. A potential Syrian offensive on Idlib is likely to trigger a refugee wave towards the Turkish border. Subsequently prompting a humanitarian crises which could have serious implications for Turkey, who today hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees in the Middle East region (3.5 million refugees). A military escalation could also lead to a direct confrontation between Turkey - a NATO member- and the Assad regime. The meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan on September 17, thwarted a full-scale offensive in Idlib. Both leaders agreed to uphold a demilitarization zone between the rebel groups and the Syrian forces, as well as stripping the rebel groups from heavy weapons, tanks and mortars. The question remains as to whether Russia can continue to contain Assad’s belligerent ambitions to, once and for all, break the last frontier of resistance in northwestern Syria. Another question is whether Turkey will be able to fulfill its part of the deal of disarming and relocating the rebel groups outside Idlib.

The political situation is also uncertain. The recent presidential and parliamentarian elections, held in June this year, may have secured Erdogan the presidency (by over 50% of the votes) for another five years, it did not however give his party (Adalet ve Kalikinma Partisi (AKP)) the parliamentarian majority to govern freely. Erdogan’s failure to secure an absolute majority in the 600-seat parliament has prompted him to form a coalition with the Nationalist party – Milliyetci Hareket Partisi (MHP). How the alliance is likely to shape politics in parliament and Erdogan’s ability share power remains to be seen.

The two-year-long emergency rule, imposed in the wake of the coup attempt, came to end in on July 19 2018. Shortly thereafter the parliament ratified a new terrorism law, proposed by the AKP. The law strengthens the authorities’ powers in detaining suspects, as well as restricting their movements. The legislation further authorizes the government to dismiss public servants (as well as personnel within the security sector and judiciary) suspected of links to a terror organization.

The prevailing situation has had a negative impact on civilians. The government continues to crackdown on members of the Gülenist Movement and other persons suspected of affiliation to the coup attempt, or with connection to presumptive terror organizations. The numbers of dismissals appear to have decreased in figures, but not in intensity. More than 150,000 persons have been dismissed since July 2016, and around 50,000 are currently awaiting trial, on charges pertaining to the coup attempt. The outcome remains uncertain. Prospects of reinstatement for those who lost their jobs following the coup attempt remain bleak. Those effected did not only lose their livelihood, but also social benefits and pensions. The social isolation and the stigma that many face as a result has also hampered any future prospects of reintegration into society, be it within the labor market or otherwise.

Several major, politically motivated trials against alleged coup plotters, mainly within the military and police force, as well as journalists and activists, have resulted in harsh and long prison sentences, some of which amounting to multiple life sentences.

Cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody is further reported, especially against persons detained for connections with the Gülenist Movement, and PKK, as well as other terror related activities.

Groups mostly effected by the developments following the purge are predominately human rights activists, journalists and civil servants. Secondary groups also effected by the unfolding events of the last two years are lawyers, defending those standing trial on charges connected to the coup attempt. Another particular group of interest presented in the report is the situation of the Syrian refugee population. Syrian refugees were not directly targeted as a result of the coup attempt. However, Turkey’s ongoing intervention in northern Syria and the continuous influx of Syrian refugees to Turkey has given rise to tensions between locals and the Syrian refugee population residing in various parts of Turkey today. Public services in local Turkish communities, such as health and education, are economically strained and overstretched by the rapid expansion in the number of Syrian refugees that have arrived since the Syrian crises began in 2011. This has led to mounting tensions between refugee groups and the local population, as refugees compete over low-wage jobs and access to public services. The potential for anti-refugee violence is particularly noticeable in larger cities, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. There have also been allegations that local authorities in a number provinces are forcibly returning Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey illegally. Turkish migration authorities have denied the allegations.

The report is in Swedish and can be downloaded at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/sweden/PLib/190128751.pdf 

18 December 2018

EASO publishes a Country of Origin Information (COI) report on Mali

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) Country Focus Report on Mali. The report provides an overview on selected topics on Mali, relevant for the international protection status determination of Malian applicants. In the last three years, nearly 29 000 Malian applications were registered in the EU+ countries. 

The EASO COI Country Focus report on Mali provides general background information on Mali, namely on geography, population, ethnic and religious groups, political and the judicial systems, together with a brief overview of the security situation in the north and central areas of the country serving as background for the focus on the security situation in the southern regions of Mali (Kayes, Koulikoro, Ségou and Sikasso). 

The EASO COI Mali Country Focus report was drafted by COI researchers from France - Office Français de Protection des Réfugiés et Apatrides (OFPRA), Division de l'Information, de la Documentation et des Recherches (DIDR) and Italy – Ministry of Interior, Italian National Commission for the Right of Asylum, International and EU Affairs, COI Unit. 

The report was reviewed by EASO and COI researchers from national asylum authorities represented in EASO’s West-Africa COI Network: Denmark - Danish Immigration Service, Section Country of Origin Information, Luxembourg - Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes, Direction de l’Immigration, Service Réfugiés, Norway – Lanfinfo, and The Netherlands - Immigration and Naturalisation Service, Office for Country of Origin Information and Language Analysis (OCILA). In addition, an external review was carried out by Dr. Bruce Whitehouse, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Global Studies Program in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Lehigh University, PA, researcher, and author of numerous publications on Mali and the region. 

This report was drafted and reviewed in accordance with EASO’s COI Report Methodology and mandate. In line with this methodology, country information from a wide variety of sources is provided, while refraining from making any assessments or policy conclusions. 

You can download the report at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/EASO_COI_report_Mali_Country_Focus_2018.pdf 

06 December 2018

EASO publishes a COI report: Iraq – Actors of Protection

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report titled Iraq – Actors of Protection. The report provides information relevant for the international protection status determination for Iraqi asylum seekers. It is one of a series of four Iraq reports that will be released in 2018. Other forthcoming reports will cover the socio-economic situation, internal mobility, and targeted profiles. A security situation report will be published in early 2019.

In 2017, Iraq ranked second among the most common countries of origin with more than 52,500 persons applying for international protection in the EU+ countries. In 2018, fewer asylum applications were lodged by Iraqi nationals in EU+ countries. Despite this decrease, Iraq was the third most common country of origin of applicants in the EU+ with close to 35,000 applicants recorded between January and October 2018. At the end of October 2018, around 26,000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The primary focus of the report is on the state's functioning in guaranteeing the protection of its citizens in the context of civilian security and justice. The central institutions that fulfil critical functions such as the Ministries of Interior and Defence, as well as the judiciary, and oversight bodies are examined in terms of capacity, mandate, effectiveness and integrity.

The EASO COI report Iraq – Actors of Protection was co-drafted by the EASO COI Sector with research contributions by the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report was reviewed by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the Slovakia Migration Office's Department of Documentation and Foreign Cooperation. In addition, the report was reviewed by the external expert, Dr. Geraldine Chatelard, social anthropologist and historian of the contemporary Middle East.

The report can be downloaded at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/Iraq_Actors_of_Protection_2018.pdf

26 November 2018

EASO publishes four COI reports on Nigeria

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published four Country of Origin Information (COI) Reports on Nigeria: Security Situation, Actors of Protection, Targeting Individuals, and Key Socio-economic indicators. The reports provide information relevant for the protection status determination of Nigerian asylum seekers.

In 2017, Nigeria was the fourth most common country of origin in the EU+ countries with a total number of close to 42,000 applicants. In 2018, following a substantial decrease in the number of irregular arrivals in the central Mediterranean, far fewer asylum applications were lodged by Nigerian nationals in EU+ countries. Despite this decrease, Nigeria remained in the top-five among all countries of origin of applicants in the EU+ with about 21,500 applicants recorded between January and October 2018. At the end of October 2018, around 25,000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The EASO COI report Nigeria Security Situation, following a brief and general introduction to Nigeria provides a general description of the security situation in Nigeria. The first chapter gives an overview of the recent conflicts in the country; actors in the conflict; recent security trends and armed confrontations; the impact of the violence on the civilian population and IDPs; and the impact of the violence on the state ability to secure law and order. 

The main conflicts in Nigeria are elaborated upon in more detail in the second chapter. A general description at the level of the geopolitical zone contains information on the geography and population, and on the background of the conflict, including the actors active in the conflict. This is followed by a description of recent trends in the security situation, with regard to the nature of the violence, frequency, tactics and targets, locations and number of fatalities. Also the impact of the violence on the state’s ability to secure law and order, and the impact on the population are discussed. 

The report includes specific information on violent incidents and civilian casualties in the North East where Boko Haram is active. An increase is noted in the number of violent incidents in the North Central Zone and Kaduna State, where conflicts between herders and farmers are intensifying. By comparison, the Niger Delta saw a much lower number of fatalities than the two previous zones. Striking is the relatively low number of incidents but resulting in a high number of fatalities in Zamfara State, where cattle rustling and mass attacks on villages have soared since the beginning of 2018. 

The EASO COI report Nigeria Security Situation was drafted by the Office for Country Information and Language Analysis (OCILA) of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was reviewed by an expert from the International and European Affairs Unit, Department for Asylum and Migration Policy, Czech Republic. The external expert Nnamdi Obasi, Senior Advisor on Nigeria, International Crisis Group also reviewed this report, in order to ensure the highest quality. 

The EASO COI report Nigeria Actors of Protection provides information on the Constitution and the state’s legal structure, the police and armed forces, the public prosecution institutions, the court system, the National Human Rights commission, the Public Complaints Commission – (the Ombudsman) and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

The report highlights the complexity of the country’s pluralist legal system, consisting of common law, Islamic law, customary law at federal, state, and local levels. Problematic capacity and integrety issues with the police and the national army are noted, leading to human rights abuses and corruption, as well as the high number of complaints received by the National Human Rights Commission, reaching one million over 2017.

The EASO COI report Nigeria Actors of Protection was drafted by the International and European Affairs Unit, Department for Asylum and Migration Policy, Czech Republic, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report was reviewed by the Office for Country Information and Language Analysis (OCILA) of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service. In addition, the report was reviewed by the external expert Stella Amadi Odiase, Lawyer and International Development Practitioner, and by the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD).

The EASO COI report Nigeria Targeting Individuals is divided into two main sections, following a first brief and general introduction to Nigeria. The second chapter on actors discusses several non-state actors, such as Boko Haram, militant groups in the Niger Delta, student/university cults, traffickers, and state or state-affiliated actors. 

The third chapter discusses 15 profiles of persons subject to targeting by one or more actors, or by society in general. These profiles, which sometimes overlap, include: persons targeted by Boko Haram, by university cults, members of militant groups in the Niger Delta, persons involved in herders-farmers conflict, religious minorities, persons affected by witchcraft and ritual killings, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons, women and children, and others. 

The EASO COI report Nigeria Targeting Individuals was drafted by members of the Country of Origin Information (COI) sector in EASO, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report was peer reviewed by Office for Country Information and Language Analysis (OCILA) of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service, and by Lifos, the Centre for Country of Origin Information and Analysis of the Swedish Migration Agency. In addition, the report was reviewed by the external expert Dr Megan Turnbull, Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Georgia in the Department of International Affairs.

The EASO COI report Nigeria Key Socio-economic indicators is divided into two main sections, after a first brief and general introduction to Nigeria in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 provides information on the following key socio-economic indicators: demographics, economic growth, employment, poverty, food security, housing and living conditions, education, health care, social networks and support mechanisms. 

A main emphasis, where information is available, is on the situation in Abuja and Lagos and on the socio-economic situation of women, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees. The third chapter provides information on mobility and internal travel possibilities.

The EASO COI report Nigeria Key Socio-economic indicators was drafted by the Country of Origin Information (COI) sector in EASO, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report was peer reviewed by Lifos, the Centre for Country of Origin Information and Analysis of the Swedish Migration Agency. In addition, the report was reviewed by the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD).

It is EASO’s intention to continue to produce such reports on important countries of origin and to update them on a regular basis in order to raise and harmonise COI standards in the EU and to further support the practical implementation of the Common European Asylum System.

The reports can be downloaded via:
EASO COI report Nigeria, Targeting of individuals, November 2018, https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/2018_EASO_COI_Nigeria_TargetingIndividuals.pdf 
EASO, COI report Nigeria, Key-socio-economic indicators, November 2018, https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/2018_EASO_COI_Nigeria_KeySocioEconomic.pdf