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Europe Faces 68% Increase in Asylum Applications

© REUTERS / Antonio ParrinelloMigrants walk after disembarking from the Spanish Civil Guard's ship Rio Segura, in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, June 23, 2015
Migrants walk after disembarking from the Spanish Civil Guard's ship Rio Segura, in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, June 23, 2015 - Sputnik International
The number of migrant’s applications for international protection in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland has increased by two-thirds in the first five months of 2015 in comparison to the same period last year, the European Asylum Support Office said in a report issued Wednesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Most of the asylum seekers were citizens of Syria, the Western Balkan countries and Eritrea, according to the report.

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Major host countries were Germany, Sweden, Italy, France and Hungary, the EU agency’s data revealed.

At the end of 2014, over half a million migrants were looking forward to their asylum application’s approval, with the bulk of pending requests increasing by 37 percent compared to 2013.

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The report was published ahead of the meeting of the EU ministers responsible for migrant issues scheduled for Thursday in Luxembourg. They are expected to discuss the European Commission’s proposals, aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from choosing dangerous sea route to Europe as well as finding ways to deal with the influx of refugees, arriving in the bloc.

The plan, proposed in May, stipulates distributing 20,000 refugees among EU countries over two years, in addition to the 40,000 refugees currently within EU borders.

The new initiatives were met with staunch opposition from several EU member states.

Slovakia to Take 500 Refugees Annually

Slovakia is ready to accept some 500 refugees a year, Slovakia's Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said Wednesday.

"Slovakia is ready to expand its plans for the reception of refugees in the next two years to 500 people per year. The help will be provided to the most affected people from the crisis regions," Kalinak told reporters in Bratislava.

According to Kalinak, Slovakia's plan is to support and help Syrian Christian families such as those who are already in camps for undocumented migrants in Italy and Greece, as well as those arriving in the country directly from Syria.

In June, Slovakia's leaders criticized the European Parliament's plans to introduce ​​compulsory quotas for each EU member state for the reception of undocumented refugees. According to these plans, Bratislava was to take a total of 1,104 migrants from developing countries in the course of two years, yet the choice of countries would be made by the officials in Brussels.

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