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Pro-migrant protesters gather in the Parliament Square during a demonstration against government’s controversial immigration bill, in London United Kingdom on March 13, 2023 [Raşid Necati Aslım – Anadolu Agency]

The number of asylum applications continued to increase in the first six months of this year in EU countries, Norway and Switzerland, an EU agency announced yesterday according to the Anadolu news agency.

“During the first half of 2023, applications for asylum rose to 519 000, a 28% increase compared to the first half of 2022,” the EU’s Agency for Asylum said in a statement.

National authorities are “under pressure with processing applications and protecting those in need,” the statement said, adding that 13 EU countries requested the EU Asylum Agency’s help to process files.

However, the backlog in pending asylum cases grew, and “the number of cases awaiting decisions also increased by 34% from 2022,” the agency said.

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On average, the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland granted refugee status or subsidiary protection at the first decision in 41 per cent of the cases.

Syrians continue to be the biggest group of origin in asylum procedures with over 67,000 applications.

In 95 per cent of the cases, Syrians were granted international protection which is the highest recognition rate in the EU. In comparison, only 58 per cent of applicants of Afghan origin received asylum.

Most Syrians – over 62 per cent – were received by Germany.

The number of applicants from the Ivory Coast and Guinea grew by over 50 per cent, accounting for 9,300 and 8,700 files respectively.

The number of asylum applications in the first half of 2023 are the highest since 2015-2016.

Germany received a majority of the applications at 30 per cent, almost twice as much as Spain (17 per cent) and France (16 per cent).

In addition, approximately four million Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, currently benefit from Temporary Protection in Europe.

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