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Abstract

During the last three decades Afghans have consistently constituted one of the single largest groups of asylum seekers in European countries. To ensure that UNHCR’s protection strategies are coherent and informed by a sound understanding of the sociological reality, UNHCR commissioned the authors of the present report to carry out a study in six countries – Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Sweden. This report presents the main findings of the research. It highlights the profiles and trajectories, motivations and aspirations, decision-making process and strategies of Afghans in connection to their journey to Europe and their experience of the EU asylum system. Illustrated by ethnographic vignettes drawn from interviews and observations, the report follows Afghans from their departure point to their entry in the EU, through what they consider as transit countries, up to their preferred destinations. It begins with a section putting the Afghan crisis in perspective, then highlights the main profiles of the Afghans coming to Europe, describes their journey and their encounter with the EU external borders, the existing mobility patterns within the EU, the variety of asylum procedures and integration policies, and the role of media and social media in shaping migration aspirations. A final section identifies key findings and themes for further discussion.

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