Bulgaria granted protection status to 2495 asylum seekers in 2013, with Syrians making up the largest single group at 81 per cent.
The figure for Bulgaria is a mere fraction of those in the top five countries that granted protection status – Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, the five European Union member states that accounted for more than 70 per cent of all those given protection status in the 28 member states of the EU.
The three largest single groups given protection status by Bulgaria in 2013 were Syrians (2020 people, or 81 per cent), stateless persons (335 or 13 per cent) and people from Iraq (80, or three per cent).
Protection status has three categories – refugee status, subsidiary protection or permission to stay for humanitarian reasons.
The figures were released by European Union statistics office Eurostat on the eve of World Refugee Day on June 20 2014.
The 28 EU member states granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013, compared with 116 200 in 2012.
Over the past five years, more than 570 000 asylum seekers were granted protection status in the EU.
The three largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status in the EU28 in 2013 remained citizens of Syria (35 800 people or 26 per cent of the total number of people granted protection status), Afghanistan (16 400 or 12 per cent) and Somalia (9700 or seven per cent).
Syrians, whose number has almost doubled compared with 2012, represented in 2013 the largest group granted protection status in half of the EU countries and one of the three largest groups in 23 of the 28 member states.
Of the 35 800 Syrians granted protection status in the EU28, more than 60 per cent were recorded in two EU member states: Sweden (12 000) and Germany (9600).
Of the 16 400 Afghans granted protection, more than three-quarters were registered in Germany (5000), Austria and Sweden (both 2300), Italy (1600) and Belgium (1500).
Of the 9700 Somalis, 2800 were granted protection status in the Netherlands, 1700 in Sweden and 1600 in Italy.
In 2013, the highest number of people granted protection status was registered in Sweden (26 400), followed by Germany (26 100), France (16 200), Italy (14 500) and the United Kingdom (13 400). All together, these five EU countries accounted for more than 70 per cent of all those granted protection status in the EU28.
In total, of the 135 700 people who were granted protection status in 2013, 64 500 were granted refugee status (47 per cent of all positive decisions), 50 900 subsidiary protection (37 per cent) and 20 400 authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons (15 per cent).
In addition, the EU28 member states received 4800 resettled refugees.
While both refugee and subsidiary protection status are defined by EU law, humanitarian status is granted on the basis of national legislation.
More than a third of asylum decisions in the EU member states at the first instance resulted in protection status.
In 2013, 326 600 first instance decisions on asylum applications were made in the EU28 and 135 000 final decisions on appeal.
Decisions made at the first instance resulted in 111 100 people being given protection status, while a further 24 600 received protection status on appeal.
The rate of recognition of asylum applicants, meaning the share of positive decisions in the total number of decisions, was 34 per cent for first instance decisions.
For final decisions on appeal, the recognition rate was 18 per cent.
In the member states, the highest rates of recognition for first instance decisions were recorded in Bulgaria (87 per cent), Malta (84 per cent), Romania (64 per cent), Italy and the Netherlands (both 61 per cent), while those for final decisions on appeal were registered in Bulgaria (93 per cent), Italy (78 per cent), Finland (77 per cent), Romania (60 per cent) and the Netherlands (57 per cent).
(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)