Ask Full Fact: are asylum seekers mostly men?

17 September 2015
What was claimed

Refugees are predominantly male.

Our verdict

In the EU, 57% of new asylum applicants in the first six months of 2015 were men, 26% were children of both genders, and 18% were women.


"There's lots of media about refugees being predominantly male. Any actual facts on this please?"

Via Twitter, 9 September 2015

"I was just wondering if you had any facts in regards to the amount of men refugees vs women/children?"

Via email, 14 September 2015

A few readers have asked us to check whether it's accurate to say that refugees are predominantly male.

The majority of the 400,000 first-time asylum applicants to EU countries over the first six months of this year have been male.

57% were males over the age of eighteen, 26% children and 18% females over the age of eighteen (and in a handful of cases, the age or gender was unknown). The gender split overall was 72% male, 28% female.


The figure for children covers those listed on a parent's or guardian's asylum application, as well as those who applied by themselves, as 23,000 children did in 2014 (we don't have a breakdown for this year).

Looking only at those over the age of eighteen, just under four out of every five applicants were male in June 2015, the latest month for which we have complete data.

These figures wouldn't include any irregular migration (entering a country without legal permission) by people who don't go on to seek asylum, and don't cover the reported surge in migrants entering Europe since the end of June. On that point, though, the United Nations estimates that of all the migrants arriving in the EU by sea this year, 69% have been men (as of late September).

In the refugee camps around Syria, where there are over 4 million registered refugees, the gender split is around 50:50 according to the UN.

Update 21 September 2015

We added an overall gender split, and the words "of both genders" to our overall verdict.

Update 24 September 2015

We added a more up-to-date estimate from the UN covering all migration to date.

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