Refugees at the Moria hotspot on Lesbos, Greece waiting to be transferred to the Greek mainland and beyond | Photo: EPA/STRATIS BALASKAS
Refugees at the Moria hotspot on Lesbos, Greece waiting to be transferred to the Greek mainland and beyond | Photo: EPA/STRATIS BALASKAS

Eurostat said the EU has experienced a 12% increase in first asylum requests in the third quarter of 2019 - compared to numbers from the previous quarter. For the first time, asylum seekers from Venezuela are in the top three of nationalities submitting asylum requests.

First asylum requests in EU countries rose by 12% in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, with a total of 166,400 applications being lodged, Eurostat said. The majority of first requests for international protection were made in Germany (37,300 - or 22% of the total numbers), France (30,500; 18%), and Spain (25,800; 16%). Altogether, the three countries made up 56% of total requests.


Italy, meanwhile received 8,315 first requests for asylum, making up 5% of the total.

Absolute numbers versus relative proportion

When comparing the number of asylum requests as relative to population size, however, a different picture starts to emerge: for example, in Italy, the number of applications is equivalent to 138 requests per 1 million residents. From this perspective, the highest rates of first asylum requests in 2019 were filed in Cyprus (3,305 per 1 million residents), followed by Malta (2,691), and Greece (1,645). 

The lowest rates in the EU meanwhile were registered in Slovakia (12 applications per 1 million residents), Hungary (15), and Poland (18). Various countries in Eastern Europe have shown reluctance to accept refugees and migrants and have, in some cases, even previously been in breach of EU law by distancing themselves from EU legislation governing asylum law.

The EU average of proportionate asylum requests was 324 per 1 million residents.

Venezuelan asylum requests on the rise

In the third quarter of 2019, 41% of the first decisions on asylum requests were positive decision. Nearly 900,000 requests are still pending. Asylum seekers from Syria submitted nearly 21,000 asylum requests - the highest number of requests by nationality in the EU. This was followed by Afghans (14,400) and Venezuelans (9,600), equivalent to 27% of the total.
 

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