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EU Registers 1.2 Million Asylum Seekers In 2016, Down Slightly From 2015

Refugees from Afghanistan arrive in an overloaded rubber dinghy at the coast near Mytilini, Lesbos island, Greece, after crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey. (file photo)

More than 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers were registered in EU member states in 2016, the European Union says.

In a report issued on March 16, statistical agency Eurostat said the majority of asylum seekers were from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The total for 2016 was down by about 50,000 from 2015.

Still, the figure was higher than the 562,700 registered aslyum seekers in 2014.

Eurostat said 334,800 first-time asylum seekers came from Syria, 183,000 from Afghanistan, and 127,000 from Iraq.

About 60 percent (722,300) were registered in Germany.

The report covers persons who submitted applications for international protection for the first time in the EU.

The number of applications rose dramatically in the wake of the Syrian civil war.

That conflict, which began in March 2011, has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced millions more, creating one of the largest migrant crises in Europe since World War II.

The EU has agreements in place with Turkey to help limit the number of refugees and migrants from beginning the journey to Europe.

However, Istanbul has threatened to cancel the deal after becoming embroiled in an angry diplomatic dispute with several European countries.

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