Asylum requests up 143% in 2014 - update 2

Third in EU after Germany, Sweden

(ANSA) - Brussels, March 20 - Requests for asylum in Italy rose 143% between 2013 and 2014, the biggest rise in the EU where the average gain was 44%, Eurostat said Friday. Italy is among the top three countries for asylum seekers after Germany and Sweden. But the ratio of inhabitants to asylum seekers is 1.1 compared to an EU average of 1.2.
    Requests for asylum surged last year amid conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya as well as wars in Africa.
    Italy picked up some 150,000 migrants in the now-defunct Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue operation.
    The country with the highest number of asylum seekers in the EU was Germany with 202,700 requests, followed by Sweden with 81,200 requests.
    Italy came in third highest overall with 64,600 requests.
    The highest increase in the EU overall after Italy's 143% gain from 2013 to 2014 was in Hungary, where requests rose 126%, followed by Denmark, with a 105% increase.
    When compared to the local population, the ratio of asylum seekers was highest in Sweden (8.4 requests per 1,000 residents), with Hungary in second place (4.3 requests per 1,000 residents) and Austria rounding out the top three (3.3 requests per 1,000 residents).
    The majority of asylum seekers were Syrian (122,800), representing 20% of the overall total, followed by those of Afghan origin (41,300), 7% of the total.


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