Asylum applications in Bulgaria increase, but still less than EU average
The number of asylum applications in Bulgaria in 2014 was eight per cent higher than in 2013, but the increase was much lower than the massive jump across the EU and made up a small fraction of applications.
In 2013, a total of 7145 people applied for asylum in Bulgaria, a figure that rose to 11 080 in 2014.
The 2014 figure accounted for just 1.8 per cent of asylum applications in the EU, where the year saw 626 000 asylum applicants, 44 per cent more than in 2013.
Like the rest of the EU, the largest number of asylum applicants in Bulgaria were from Syria.
Of the 11 080 asylum applicants in 2014, 6245 were from Syria (56 per cent), 2965 from Afghanistan (27 per cent) and 610 from Iraq (six per cent).
Bulgaria made 7435 first-instance decisions on asylum applications in 2014, but account must be taken that some of these decisions may date from previous years.
In 7000 of these decisions, the response was positive, with Syrians again making up most of the figures.
Of the 7000 people granted positive decisions by Bulgaria in 2014, 6405 were Syrians (91 per cent), 425 people were classified as stateless (six per cent) and 90 were from Iraq (one per cent).
In a report released on March 20 2015, EU statistics office Eurostat said that over a year, the number of asylum applicants1 registered in the European Union (EU) had increased by 191 000 (44 per cent) to reach a peak of 626 000 in 2014. In particular, the number of Syrians rose by 72 000, from 50 000 in 2013 to almost 123 000 in 2014.
In 2014, the highest number of applicants in the EU was registered by far in Germany (202 700 applicants, or 32 per cent of total applicants), followed by Sweden (81 200, or 13 per cent), Italy (64 600, or 10 per cent), France (62 800, or 10 per cent) and Hungary (42 800, or seven per cent).
Eurostat said that it should be noted that these five EU countries registered different trends last year.
The number of asylum applicants in 2014 more than doubled compared with 2013 in Italy (143 per cent) and Hungary (126 per cent) and increased significantly in Germany (60 per cent) and Sweden (50 per cent), while it decreased by five per cent in France.
Compared with the population of each member state, the highest rates of registered applicants were recorded in Sweden (8.4 applicants per 1000 inhabitants), well ahead of Hungary (4.3), Austria (3.3), Malta (3.2), Denmark (2.6) and Germany (2.5).
In contrast, the lowest rates were observed in Portugal, Slovakia and Romania.
In 2014, there were 1.2 asylum applicants per 1000 inhabitants in the EU.
Syria (122 800 asylum applicants, or 20 per cent of the total number of applicants) continued to be the main country of citizenship of asylum applicants in the EU, Eurostat said.
Of the 122 800 Syrians who applied for asylum in the EU in 2014, about 60 per cent were registered in two member states: Germany (41 100) and Sweden (30 800).
Syrians represented also the main citizenship of asylum seekers in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania and Slovenia, Eurostat said.
Afghanistan (41 300 asylum applicants, or seven per cent of the total number of applicants) became the second country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU in 2014.
Of the 41 300 Afghans seeking asylum protection in the EU in 2014, 9700 were registered in Germany and 8 800 in Hungary.
With 37 900 applicants (or six per cent of the EU total) in 2014, Kosovo completed the top three citizenships of asylum seekers in the EU.
More than half applied for asylum in Hungary (21 500).
In some member states, at least half of the applicants came from a single country. This was the case in 2014 in Cyprus (57 per cent of the applicants came from Syria), Bulgaria (56 per cent from Syria), Hungary (50 per cent from Kosovo ) and Poland (50 per cent from Russia).
(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)