First-time asylum applicants to EU increase by 4 pct

By Merve Aydogan

ANKARA (AA) – Asylum seekers applying for international protection in the EU member states increased by four percent in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter, the EU's statistical office reported on Tuesday.

According to the data compiled by Eurostat, the second quarter of 2018 recorded 136,700 first-time asylum seeker applications, a rise from 131,400 in the first quarter of 2018.

“Most applications are from Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and Venezuelans,” said the statistical office.

Syrian asylum seekers remained the largest group with 18,300 applicants between April and June 2018, according to Eurostat. “Syrians were ahead of Afghans (9,200 first-time applicants), Iraqis (8,400) and Venezuelans (7,600).”

Germany ranked as the first choice of first-time applicants followed by France and Greece.

“During the second quarter of 2018, the highest number of first-time applicants was registered in Germany (with 33,700 first-time applicants, or 25 percent of total first-time applicants in the EU Member States) and France (26,100, or 19 percent), followed by Greece (16,300 or 12 percent) and Spain (16,200, or 12 percent),” said Eurostat.

The EU statistical office further added that nearly a million asylum applications are still pending.