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EUROPE: Cyprus receives the highest number of first-time asylum applicants

14 March, 2019

Cyprus saw the highest number of first-time asylum seekers in Europe last year – in relation to its population - spiking 70% on 2017, also the EU’s biggest percentage increase.


Nicosia has often complained that it is now on the frontline of Europe’s irregular migration flows with little support from Brussels to share the burden while it is at breaking point.

In Cyprus there were 4,475 first time applications in 2017, a number that jumped 70% (+3,100) to 7,610 in 2018.

The highest number of registered first-time applicants in 2018 relative to the population of each Member State was recorded in Cyprus (8,805 first-time applicants per million population), according to data released Thursday by Eurostat.

This figure corresponds to 1.3% of the total of first-time applications absorbed by the entire EU.

After Cyprus the next highest was Greece (6,051), Malta (4,276) and Luxembourg (3,694).

In contrast, the lowest numbers were recorded in Slovakia (28 applicants per million population), Poland (63), Hungary (65), Estonia (68) and Latvia (91).

In the EU as a whole, there were 1,133 first-time asylum applicants per million population.

In Greece 56,940 first time applications were received in 2017 a number that increased 14% to 64,975 applications in 2018. This corresponds to 11.2% of the EU total.

According to Eurostat, inn 2018, 580 800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), down by 11% compared with 2017 (654 600) and less than half of the number recorded in the peak year 2015 when 1 256 600 first-time asylum applicants were registered.

The number of asylum applicants in 2018 is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.

Eurostat states that Syrian (80,900 first-time applicants), Afghan (41,000) and Iraqi (39,600) continued to be the main origin of people seeking international protection in the EU, accounting for almost 30% of all first-time applicants.

Among Member States with more than 5,000 first-time asylum seekers, the number of applicants, rose most YOY in Cyprus (+70%) and Spain (+60%, or 19,700 more), ahead of Belgium (+29%, or 4,100 more), the Netherlands (+27%, or 4, 400 more), France (+20%, or 18,500 more) and Greece (+14%, or 8,000 more).

In contrast, the largest relative decreases were recorded in Italy (-61%, or 77,400 fewer), Austria (-49%, or 11,100 fewer), Sweden (-19%, or 4,100 fewer) and Germany (-18%, or 36,400 fewer).