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Number of first time asylum seekers in EU doubles 

September 24, 2021 at 2:19 pm

A family of refugees sit on their belongings at the old Samos camp, before being transferred to the new Samos RIC, the first of five new ‘closed’ migrant camps, on the island of Samos, Greece, on 20 September 2021. [LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The number of first-time asylum seekers to the European Union has more than doubled over the spring months, Reuters said a report released today by the bloc’s statistics office revealed.

Nearly 103,900 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in EU countries between April and June of this year, according to Eurostat, up 115 per cent compared to the same period of 2020.

Over the three months, Syrians represented around a fifth of first-time applicants – by far the largest group – followed by Afghans at 13 per cent and Pakistanis at four per cent.

The number of unaccompanied children applying for asylum also rose, up by nearly a fifth year-on-year to reach 4,240, with most minors applying for entry to Belgium, Austria and Germany.

The Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, as well as the Czech Republic and Malta, did not record any applications from unaccompanied children.

READ: Conditions in UK hotels housing asylum seekers sub-standard, unsafe, report finds

It was Western Europe – Germany, France and Spain which recorded the largest numbers of first-time applicants, while Hungary – whose government strongly opposes Muslim migration into Europe – received only ten applicants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered electoral setbacks after opening Germany to Syrian refugees back in 2015, but in a sign of changing mood the country’s mayors have now offered to take in more refugees.

Eurostat’s report follows a contentious plan the EU’s executive launched on Wednesday to overhaul broken migration rules and provide a better welcome for refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa.

The proposals, intended to be put in place from 2023, put emphasis on sending back those who fail to win asylum.

According to Eurostat, the number of people re-applying for asylum following a previous decision fell 51 per cent compared to the first three months of the year.