Less asylum claims filed in Malta, Germany takes refugee crisis bulk

650,000 first-time asylum seekers registered in the EU in 2017, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans continued to be the top citizenships

Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war were the highest number of asylum seekers in Europe, and in Malta
Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war were the highest number of asylum seekers in Europe, and in Malta

Malta registered a total of 1,610 asylum claims in 2017, which was less than in 2016 (1,735) and far lower than the record high of 2008 (2,605).

Asylum claims are lodged by non-EU nationals seeking protection from persecution and inhuman treatment in their home country.

The main category of asylum seekers were Syrians (435), Libyans (410), and Somalis (330).

In 2017, 650,000 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in any EU member state, just over half the number recorded in 2016, when 1.2 million claims were registered, comparable to the level recorded in 2014 before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.

Syrian (102,400 first-time applicants), Iraqi (47,500) and Afghan (43,600) continued to be the main citizenships of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2017, together accounting for 30% of all first-time applicants. 

The bulk of claims were filed in Germany, 198,300 or 31% of the total first-time applicants.

It was followed by Italy (126,600, or 20%), France (91.100, or 14%), Greece (57,000, or 9%), the United Kingdom (33,000, or 5%) and Spain (30 400, or 5%).

Greece was also the highest country that took in most first-time asylum seekers relative to its population (5,295 per million population), ahead of small and densely-populated states like Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta (3,502 per million – one asylum claim per 285 nationals).

Among Member States with more than 5,000 first-time asylum seekers in 2017, the number of first time applicants compared in relative terms with the previous year rose most in Spain (+96%, or 14.900 more first-time asylum seekers in 2017 than in 2016), France (+19%, or 14 300 more), Greece (+14%, or 7.200 more) and Italy (+4%, or 5 400 more). In contrast, the largest relative decreases were recorded in Germany (-73%), Austria (-44%), the Netherlands (-17%) and the United Kingdom (-15%).

Syria (16% of the total number of first-time applicants) was in 2017 the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States, a position it has held each year since 2013. Of the 102,400 Syrians who applied for asylum for the first-time in the EU in 2017, almost 50% were registered in Germany (49,000). In total, Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in fourteen EU Member States.

Iraq (7% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2017. Of the 47,500 Iraqis seeking asylum protection for the first-time in the EU in 2017, close to 50% applied in Germany (21 900). Iraqi was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in three EU Member States.

With 43 600 first-time applicants (or 7% of the EU total) in 2017, Afghanistan was the third main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States. More than one-third applied in Germany (16,400).

At the end of 2017, 927,300 applications for international protection in the EU Member States were still under consideration by the national authorities. At the end of 2016, this figure was slightly higher (1,094.100). Germany had the largest share of applications pending in the EU at the end of 2017 (443,800, or 48% of the EU total), ahead of Italy (152,400, or 16%), Austria (57,700, or 6%) and Sweden (51,500, or 6%).

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