Asylum applications in European countries jumped by 10% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2018, official data released on Monday show.
Preliminary analyses by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) reveal that there were 337,200 applications for asylum lodged in the first six months of the year in EU+ countries — the 28 member states as well as Norway and Switzerland.
This represents a 10% jump on the same period last year, according to the EASO.
The main countries of origin of asylum seekers were Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela.
The EU agency flagged that the number of applications from nationals from some Latin American countries including Venezuela, Colombia and Salvador already equals or surpasses those registered for the whole of 2018.
Despite the rise in applications, EU countries issued just 41,700 decisions in first instance — the lowest output in about four years — and about 439,000 cases were still pending at the end of June of which the majority were older than six months.
Overall, just over a third of decisions (34%) issued in the first six months of 2019 were granted EU-regulated protection with 66,923 applications given refugee status and a further 28,331 granted subsidiary protection.
Citizens from Yemen and Syria — where bloody civil wars have been ongoing for several years — had the highest acceptance rate (84%), while asylum seekers from Moldova and North Macedonia had the lowest — 0.3% and 1% respectively.