A European Union agency said on Wednesday that the number of asylum applications in the continent reached highs not seen for nearly seven years, when more than 1 million people sought refuge from the Syrian war.
"After EU+ countries received unusually high numbers of asylum applications between May and July, this trend has accelerated," said the EU Asylum Agency (EUAA).
Who is seeking asylum in Europe?
The agency reported a 16% increase in refugee applications in August over the month of July.
It said 84,500 people applied for asylum in the bloc's 27 counties, Norway and Switzerland. Another 255,000, "almost exclusively" from Ukraine, sought some form of temporary protection, it added.
The figures amount to about half of those recorded in late 2015, according to the agency.
"Taken together, asylum applications and registrations for temporary protection have surpassed 5 million in 2022 so far," the EUAA said.
With the war still ongoing in Syria and after the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan, Afghans and Syrians continue to make up the highest percentage of nationalities seeking refuge in Europe.
Nearly one-third of the applicants in August were from Syria and Afghanistan. The EUAA said it saw a sharp rise in August in the number of children from these countries traveling alone, up by almost 28% from July.
The agency also noted that there were increasing numbers of applications by people from Turkey, India and Morocco.
August also saw the highest number of asylum applicants from Turkey since at least 2014, with 4,600 Turks.
Agency warns of 'strains' on EU countries
The EUAA said the figures signal "increased strains on national systems."
Regional officials across Germany have said they were overwhelmed as they host more asylum seekers, mostly from Ukraine.
While EU officials have repeatedly admitted mistakes and failures in their 2015 refugee policies, there has been little progress in fixing the system.
Besides the pressure on hosting facilities and officials, the topic has been polarizing among European politicians.
The arrival of Syrian refugees in 2015 sparked one of the EU's biggest political crises as countries fought over who should take responsibility for the refugees.
European politicians continue to bicker over the subject, with some countries particularly under pressure from rights groups for mistreatment of asylum seekers.
Most recently, Italy's new right-wing government was sharply criticized for blocking humanitarian rescue ships from accessing its ports.
The Netherlands, among other EU countries, is looking to cut down the number of migrants it hosts. This comes as hundreds of asylum seekers are left camping outside a reception center in the Dutch town of Ter Apel.
With material from The Associated Press.