There were a total of 3470 first-time asylum applicants in Bulgaria in 2017, a figure 82 per cent lower than the 18 990 in 2016, according to data released on March 20 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
The number of first-time asylum applicants in Bulgaria in 2017 was about 0.5 per cent of the total in the EU.
Of the applicants in Bulgaria, a total of 1050 were from Afghanistan, about 30 per cent, 955 were from Iraq, about 28 per cent, and the third-largest group were from Syria, 940 people or about 27 per cent of the total.
In 2017, 650 000 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in EU countries, Eurostat said.
This was just more than half the number recorded in 2016, when 1 206 500 first-time asylum applicants were registered, and is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.
Syrian (102 400 first-time applicants), Iraqi (47 500) and Afghan (43 600) continued to be the main citizenships of people seeking international protection in the EU member states in 2017, together accounting for 30 per cent of all first-time applicants, Eurostat said.
With 198 300 first-time applicants registered in 2017, Germany accounted for 31 per cent of all first-time applicants in the EU countries. It was followed by Italy (126 600, or 20 per cent), France (91 100, or 14 per cent), Greece (57 000, or nine per cent), the United Kingdom (33 300, or five per cent) and Spain (30 400, or five per cent).
The highest number of registered first-time applicants in 2017 relative to the population of each member state was recorded in Greece (5295 first-time applicants per million population), ahead of Cyprus (5235), Luxembourg (3931) and Malta (3502).
(Photo: UNICEF/Tomislav Georgiev)