Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Iraqi nationals are among those ditching their identity documents and claiming to be Syrian refugees. They know that if they are processed as a refugee from a conflict area, rather than as an economic migrant escaping poverty, they are much more likely to be granted asylum.

As many as 90% of asylum seekers arriving from Macedonia have claimed to be Syrian despite not having Syrian identity documents. In addition, the chief of the European Union border agency has reported an increase in the trafficking of forged Syrian passports.

Since January, approximately 340,000 people have tried to cross into the European Union according to international aid agencies.

Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, those fleeing violence and persecution have the right to not be immediately sent back to the situation they are fleeing.

The country that first receives a migrant must normally process their asylum claim under the European Union’s rules. However, last week Germany waived this rule for Syrians, causing more asylum seekers to try to reach Germany. Germany also made it clear that only those fleeing for their safety and not because of poverty would be allowed to stay.