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Eurostat: EU Asylum Granting Doubled in 2016 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A girl queues for free food at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees in Greece. (Reuters)

The number of migrants seeking asylum in European Union states more than doubled in 2016 when compared to 2015, the bloc’s statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday

Just over 700,000 refugees were granted asylum in 2016 compared to about 330,000 in 2015, it said.

The majority of those granted asylum were Syrians and they also had the best chance of winning asylum, with over 98 percent of applications receiving a positive reply. One in 10 came from Iraq and Afghanistan, it added. They were followed by Eritreans and stateless asylum-seekers.

Eurostat said that 405,600 people were Syrians, 65,800 were Iraqis and 61,800 Afghans.

Migrants from the Balkans and south Asia were most likely to be refused asylum.

Germany granted asylum to 445,000 refugees in 2016, three times more than it did in 2015, distantly followed by Sweden, Italy and France.

While the European border agency Frontex reported a drop in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in the EU from 2015 to 2016, the increase in the number of people being granted asylum may at least partly reflect lengthy procedures.

Meanwhile, EU auditors said that centers set up in Greece and Italy to fast-track the registration of migrants are overwhelmed and urgently require more experts, particularly to help children.

In a report released Tuesday, the auditors said that two more centers known as “hotspots” are needed to process migrants in Italy and that facilities on Greek islands where people arrive from Turkey must be improved.

It added that in Greece “there are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded.” Some children have been held in “restrictive conditions” there for more than three months.

The auditors say the hotspots in Greece and Italy are designed to process about 8,000 people but are routinely dealing with 15,000-16,000 migrants.