Stats: 1.2 million people sought asylum in EU last year

Stats: 1.2 million people sought asylum in EU last yearEurope’s record for annual asylum applications was nearly broken in 2016 when European Union countries, Norway and Switzerland received more than 1.2 million asylum applications, according to the recently released data from Eurostat, Europe’s statistical agency.

The numbers of asylum seekers trailed off considerably by the end of 2016 and fell short of the previous year’s peak surge in late summer and early fall.

In 2016 the countries received about 92,000 fewer applications than the record 1.3 million applications received in 2015.

At the same time, however, the number of monthly asylum applications in Europe decreased considerably at the end of 2016, dropping from 100,000 or more applications per month for most of 2016 to about 80,000 in October, 72,000 in November and 61,000 in December. The monthly number of asylum applications at the end of 2016 was similar to that of the beginning of 2015, before the refugee surge.

In all, Europe received some 2.5 million first-time asylum applications in 2015 and 2016. The European country with the most applications in the past two years has been Germany, which received nearly half (45%) of these applications, followed by Hungary (8%), Italy (8%) and Sweden (7%). Both Italy and Greece continue to receive new arrivals on their shores, but Italy received more than Greece in 2016.

Among those who applied for asylum in 2015 and 2016, more than half (53%) were nationals from just three countries: Syria (28%), Afghanistan (15%) and Iraq (10%). Asylum applicants from Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Kosovo were between 3% and 4% each of all asylum applications.

In Europe, all asylum seekers, whether children or adults, must file applications. They then wait for their case to be reviewed by the country where they filed their application. With a mounting backlog of more than a million applications currently under review by European authorities, decisions can take months or sometimes more than a year. Meanwhile, many asylum seekers wait in government-run facilities where they are provided medical care and food. If an asylum seeker’s application is accepted, they receive permanent residency and permission to work. If their application is rejected, they can file an appeal within a certain period of time, depending on the European country. They are also subject to deportation.

The monthly count of new asylum applications remained around 100,000 for most of 2016, even though the number of new refugees entering the EU via Greece dropped sharply after a March 2016 agreement that saw the EU and Turkey take measures to deter migration across the Eastern Mediterranean.
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