In 2015, a total of 1 255 600 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in EU countries, a number more than double that of the previous year, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on March 4 2016.
In Bulgaria, the number of first time applicants in 2015 was 20 165, a figure 87 per cent higher than that for 2014. The total for the year 2015 in Bulgaria made up about 1.6 per cent of first time applicants in the EU.
By country of citizenship, the largest number of applicants for asylum in Bulgaria came from Iraq (6910, or 34 per cent of the total first time applicants in the country in 2015), followed by Afghanistan (6165, or 31 per cent) and, in third place, Syria (5955, or 30 per cent), according to Eurostat.
Across the entire EU, the number of Syrians seeking international protection has doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year to reach 362 800, while the number of Afghans has almost quadrupled to 178 200 and that of Iraqis has multiplied by seven to 121 500.
They represent the three main citizenships of first time asylum applicants in the EU member states in 2015, accounting for more than half of all first time applicants.
In 2015, the highest number of first time applicants was registered in Germany (with 441 800 first time applicants, or 35 per cent of all first time applicants in EU countries), followed by Hungary (174 400, or 14 per cent), Sweden (156 100, or 12 per cent), Austria (85 500, or seven per cent), Italy (83 200, or seven per cent) and France (70 600, or six per cent).
Compared with the previous year, the number of first time asylum applicants in 2015 increased the most in Finland (822 per cent), ahead of Hungary (323 per cent), Austria (233 per cent), Belgium (178 per cent), Spain (167 per cent) and Germany (155 per cent).
Compared with the population of each member state, the highest number of registered first time applicants in 2015 was recorded in Hungary (17 699 first time applicants per million inhabitants), ahead of Sweden (16 016), Austria (9970), Finland (5876) and Germany (5441).
In contrast, the lowest numbers were observed in Croatia (34 applicants per million inhabitants), Slovakia (50), Romania (62), Portugal (80) and Lithuania (93).
In 2015, there were on average 2470 first time asylum applicants per million inhabitants in the EU member states.
Syria (29 per cent of the total number of first time applicants) was again in 2015 the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU countries.
Of the 362 800 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in 2015, almost half were registered in Germany (158 700).
In total, Syrians represented the main citizenship of asylum seekers in 12 EU countries.
Afghanistan (14 per cent of the total number of first time applicants) remained the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU member states in 2015.
Of the 178 200 Afghans seeking asylum protection for the first time in EU countries in 2015, nearly half applied in two member states: Hungary (45 600) and Sweden (41 200).
With 121 500 first time applicants (or 10 per cent of the EU total) in 2015, Iraq was the third country of citizenship of asylum seekers in EU countries. Six in 10 applied in one of the following three countries: Germany (29 800), Finland (20 400) and Sweden (20 200).
At the end of 2015, 922 800 applications for international protection in the EU member states were still under consideration by the responsible national authority. At the end of 2014, there were about half as many (489 300). With 424 800 pending applications at the end of 2015 (or 46 per cent of the EU total), Germany had the largest share in the EU, ahead of Sweden (156 700, or 17 per cent) and Italy (60 200, or seven per cent).
(Photo: Unicef/Tomislav Georgiev)