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    Asylum applications in the EU drop for the third year running

    © Belga

    Applications for asylum in the EU+ countries decreased in 2018 for the third consecutive year, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) said in its latest report, released on Monday.

    Last year, 664,480 asylum requests were filed in the EU+ (EU member States + Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein), 10% fewer than the year before, EASO said. This was about the same number as in 2014.

    So far this year (2019), the EU+ countries have registered some 290,000 requests for asylum.

    While the number of applications has been going down, the number of people detected while trying to reach Europe through the Western Mediterranean has more than doubled and now equals the number of persons found trying to come in through the Eastern Mediterranean (57,000 in both cases).

    Syria (13% since 2013), Afghanistan and Iraq (7% each) are the three main countries of origin of the asylum seekers. Together, they represent more than a quarter (27%) of 2018’s applicants.

    The other countries in the top-10 bracket are Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey (4% each), Venezuela, Albania and Georgia (3% each).

    The number of Syrian refugees registered in the countries around Syria (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt) and in other countries of North Africa at the end of 2018 was 5.7 million, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    Last year, the five European countries to have taken in the most refugees per capita were Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Sweden and Luxemburg. Belgium was in eighth place, far behind Germany.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times