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EU asylum applications up in 2012, new report says

EU asylum applications up in 2012, new report says
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Just over 330,000 people sought asylum in the EU last year, an increase of 11 percent from 2011, according to new figures from the European Asylum Support Office released on Monday.

Afghanistan was the main country of origin with 28,005 Afghans seeking asylum. The biggest rise in applications came from Syria; up 206 percent to 24,110 in 2012.

Robert Visser, the director of the European Asylum Support Office, praised recent EU moves to harmonise asylum rules.

“That will mean a considerable effort for member states implement and translate it to their national systems,” he said.

Last month, MEPs gave the nod to adopting common procedures in dealing with asylum seekers.

The new rules will set a standard six-month deadline to process asylum cases with limited exceptions.

The European Parliament and EU governments have also agreed a shortlist of grounds for detaining asylum seekers, as well as minimum standards for detention and living conditions.

They should come into effect in the second half of 2015.