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EU asylum applications drop by nearly half

Chase Winter
February 1, 2018

More than 700,000 applications for asylum were lodged in Europe in 2017. One million asylum applications decisions were also made, with 40 percent resulting in refugee status or subsidiary protection.

Deutschland Flüchtlinge kommen an der ZAA in Berlin an
Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

Asylum applications across Europe dropped by 43 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, the EU Asylum Support Office (EASO) said on Thursday.

EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland recorded asylum applications from 706,913 people in 2017, marking the second consecutive year that numbers have decreased since an influx of migrants in 2015, EASO said.

Still, asylum applications numbers in 2017 were slightly higher than the number lodged in 2014, "indicating that the asylum-related inflow in the EU+ remained considerable," the Malta-based agency said.

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For the fifth year in a row, Syrians were the top country of origin and responsible for more than 98,000 applications in 2017.

Syria was followed by Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria, each with more than 40,000 applications. Other countries of origin in the top 10 were Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea and Iran.

At least 3.5 percent of applicants were unaccompanied minors.

Almost 1 million asylum decisions made

The number of first-time asylum decisions in 2017 was the second highest since data collection began in 2008.

Just short of 1 million asylum rulings were made in 2017, with 40 percent resulting in a positive decision granting refugee status or subsidiary protection.

Infografik First-instance decisions, EU+

There were still 462,532 people awaiting an initial decision on their application at the end of 2017, nearly half the number of pending applications compared to the end of 2016. 

The reason for the decline in pending first asylum decisions was the number of rulings in 2017 outnumbered the number of new applications.

Around 60 percent of the pending asylum decisions have been in process for more six months.

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