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source: UNCHR, 2017 statictical yearbook

According to UNHCR, we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

According to EUROSTAT, the number of first time asylum applicants  in the EU-28 decreased by -54 % in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of 2016 and by -11 % compared with the first quarter of 2017. Overall, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU-28 during the second quarter of 2017 reached 149 000. This was 175 000 less than in the same quarter of 2016. Out of the 161 000 total asylum applicants (i.e. including repeat applicants), 149 000 (92 %) were first time applicants.

Asylum is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory. It is granted to a person who is unable to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Citizens of 145 countries sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the second quarter of 2017. Syrians, Nigerians and Afghans were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging 21 100, 9 800 and 9 700 applications respectively.

Syrians (76 000 less applicants compared with the second quarter of 2016) contributed most to the overall decrease in first time asylum applicants in absolute terms, followed by Afghans (46 200 less) and Iraqis (27 300 less). In contrast, the number of asylum applicants increased most in absolute terms for citizens of Bangladesh (2 600 more), Guinea (1 800 more) and Venezuela (1 700 more).

Of the 21 000 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in the second quarter of 2017 nearly 50 % were registered in Germany (9 700) and about 10 % in Greece (2 300) and Austria (2 100). Similarly, 70 % of Nigerians (6 700) applied for asylum in Italy, while 36 % of Afghans (3 500) applied for asylum in Germany. Syrians were the main citizenship of asylum seekers in 15 EU Member States.

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