A new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that no single factor could explain the significant increase in international protection applications made in the first half of this year.

It found that Covid-19, conflict and the impact of the war in Ukraine were key drivers in the recent surge, but warned that asylum trends would vary into the future, and that well-planned, flexible receptions systems were needed.

In the first six months of 2022, a total of 6,494 applications for international protection were lodged in Ireland, a 191% increase compared with the same period in 2019.

The UK and the EU saw increases too, but they are comparatively smaller, 61% and 18% respectively.

The top 10 countries of origin among those applying for international protection in Ireland in the first six months of 2022 were Georgia, Somalia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, South Africa, Botswana and Egypt.

Despite the fact that Ukrainians fleeing the war in their home country qualify for EU-wide temporary protection status, 300 Ukrainians still applied for international protection here in that time.

The report suggested that this cohort may have arrived before the Temporary Protection Directive came into force on 4 March 2022, or may have been non-resident in Ukraine when the war broke out, making them ineligible for temporary protection.

Ireland was one of a small number of EU countries that saw international protection applications rise continuously throughout the first six months of this year.

The other countries that experienced similar month-on-month application increases earlier this year were Austria, Cyprus, Croatia and Slovenia.

Read the report in full

The research was funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and tasked the ESRI with explaining why.

The report said that a "lack of geographic proximity" and "other patterns including different nationalities applying for asylum, indicates that the increases may be caused by different drivers".

The report found that the Baltic states also saw increases, but concluded that these appeared to be driven by applications by Russian and Belorussian nationals.

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Authors of the report described the recent increase in Ireland as "significant" but said it was "not unprecedented" when compared with figures from the early 2000s.

It found that the factors that contributed most appeared to be the after effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw migration effectively suppressed and also affected economies globally; conflict and conditions in people's countries of origin; and the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effects.

The report found that international protection applications by people from Somalia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Botswana and Egypt increased across the UK and the EU-26 in the first six months of 2022.

The number of applicants from Georgia increased in Ireland and the UK, but not across the EU.

The report said that "the ramifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are particularly evident in Georgia, where it has had significant economic and socio-political impacts".

However, it said the fact that Georgians are visa-required in Ireland and the UK but not in the Schengen Area may suggest that some people are using the "asylum system as a means of entry".

The report said changes in the UK, including its proposal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, were unlikely to have had a significant effect on applications overall, but that there may have been a "small deflection effect" among certain nationalities, including Zimbabwean and South African nationals.

Another factor identified as having contributed to the increase was the movement of refugees from other EU member states to Ireland.

On a smaller scale, the report cited conditions here including labour market shortages, the social networks of people and lastly routes into Ireland, including smuggler routes and visa requirements.

Keire Murphy, co-author of the report, said that while much of the EU has seen such figures before, Ireland has long been "an outlier" with a low number of applications.

"However, this report has shown that international protection applications tend to vary significantly, and so our reception systems need to be designed with this in mind," Ms Murphy said.