EU countries, Norway and Switzerland received nearly 707,000 asylum applications in 2017, which is 43 percent fewer compared to the previous year but still more than in the periods prior to the European migration crisis, the European Asylum Support Office’s (EASO) data revealed on Thursday.
"In 2017, EU+ countries recorded 706,913 asylum applications. This is a decrease of 43% compared to 2016, and the second consecutive year with fewer applications after the unprecedented influx in 2015 and 2016. Despite this decrease, the 2017 total remained at a slightly higher level than the number of applications lodged in 2014, indicating that the asylum-related inflow in the EU+ remained considerable," the EASO said in a press release.
According to the EASO's statistics, Syria has remained the main country of origin of applicants for the fifth consecutive year, with more than 98,000 applications. Syrians are followed by Iraqi, Afghan and Nigerian nationals, with more than 40,000 asylum applications per each group. Among the top 10 countries of origin are also Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea and Iran.
Despite a 13-percent decrease, European countries continued issuing a considerable number of decisions (981,615) at first instance in 2017, 40 percent of which were positive. The number of pending applications decreased by half compared to the previous year and leveled off at 462,532 in late 2017, the agency observed.
This recognition rate, which is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions on refugee status or subsidiary protection by the total number of all decisions, decreased by 17 percent, compared to 2016, which reflected a drop in the number of decisions on Syrian and Eritrean nationals, and an increase in the number of decisions on cases with relatively lower recognition rates, the data showed.
Since 2015, the European Union has been facing an acute migration crisis, with hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers arriving in the bloc in a bid to flee wars and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in their homes in the Middle East and North Africa.
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