More than half a million people, 20% of which are from Syria applied for political asylum in the EU in 2014, which represents an unprecedented 44% increase on 2013 figures, reported the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) on Friday. The 8% increase in the number of applications to Belgium is well below the European average. In 2014, a total of 626,000 asylum applications were recorded across the 28 member states of the European Union, 191,000 more than in 2013. Applications for asylum were particularly high from Syrians, a figure that more than doubled, going from 50,000 people in one year to nearly 123,000 applicants, a jump of 72,000.
Germany is the destination of choice for asylum seekers, with a third of all applications recorded in 2014 (32.4%), followed by Italy (10.3%) and France (10%). Belgium dealt with 22.710 asylum applications in2014, which represents 3.6% of the European total. Proportionally to the country’s population, Sweden tops the list with 8.4 applications per thousand inhabitants, followed by Hungary (4.3 per thousand) which attracted huge numbers of Kosovars, and Malta and Austria (respectively 3.2 and 3.3 per thousand). In contrast, the lowest rates were observed in Portugal (under 0.1 per thousand), Slovakia and Romania (0.1 per thousand). In Belgium, there are 2.1 asylum seekers per thousand inhabitants, above the European average of 1.2 per thousand applicants.
Mediterranean crossings from the African coast to Italy have caused the number of asylum seekers in Italy to more than double (+143%) compared to 2013.
Syrian asylum seekers total 122,800 and Syria therefore remains the main country of origin of asylum seekers, followed by Afghanistan (41,300 asylum seekers, or 7% of the total number of applicants). Kosovo completes the top three, with 37,900 asylum seekers (6% of EU total) in 2014.
Belgium is experiencing a similar situation with 2705 applications from Syrians (12% of Belgium’s total) and 2,330 Afghans (10% of its total). Belgium is also facing a large number of applications from Russian nationals (1,850 requests, 8% of the total number of applications to Belgium).
Of the 360,000 asylum decisions made by EU member states in 2014, 163 000 were favourable and led to the applicant being granted refugee status or a temporary protection regime. Over a third of these decisions were made in favour of Syrian nationals (41%). In Belgium, 21% of all applications were granted to Syrians. Almost 40% of applications for asylum in Belgium were accepted.