Last updated: 19 June, 2014

EU shelters Syrians but other refugees lag

European Union nations offered shelter to a majority of the Syrians seeking refuge from conflict last year but to less than one in three people fleeing Afghanistan, Africa or elsewhere.

Of the 50,000 Syrians who fled to the 28-nation bloc, some 35,000 were granted immediate protection — accounting for a quarter of the 135,000 people given asylum across Europe last year, the EU’s Eurostat agency said Thursday.

Overall, 29.4 percent of the 435,000 people who sought a safe haven in Europe were offered protection.

Syrians were by far the largest group, followed by 16,400 Afghans and 9,700 Somalis.

Of the Syrians, more than 60 percent were given a home in Sweden, with 12,000, and Germany 9,600.

Germany last week said it would accept 10,000 more refugees from war-ravaged Syria.

Europe’s top economy agreed last year to take a first 10,000 Syrian refugees, of whom around 6,000 are already in the country, Eurostat said.

The war in Syria has killed more than 162,000 people and generated the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of the mid-1990s.

Half the country’s population has fled, including nearly three million refugees mainly sheltering in neighbouring countries.

Of the Afghan refugees, more than three quarters were registered in Germany with 5,000, Austria and Sweden 2,300 each, Italy 1,600 and Belgium 1,500.

Of the Somalis, 2,800 won asylum in the Netherlands, 1,700 in Sweden and 1,600 in Italy.

The most generous EU states were often those most under pressure from illegal migration, with Bulgaria, Malta, Romania and Italy recording the highest rates of immediate recognition of refugee states — 87 percent, 84 percent, 64 percent and 61 percent in that order.

The highest single number of people given protection was in Sweden with 26,400 followed by Germany on 26,100, France 16,200, Italy 14,500 and Britain 13,400.

The five nations together accounted for more than 70 percent of those given shelter.