Asylum requests double in Spain in 2017

THE number of applications made by refugees for asylum status in Spain was around 31,700 last year, almost twice as much as 2016 levels.

An average of around 2,700 people per month applied for the status nationally. Spain was an outlier in European trends where the number of asylum requests made fell in 2017.

Almost 707,000 people applied for asylum status in the EU, around 43 per cent less than the number of requests made in 2016, according to figures.

Maria Jesus Vega, the United Nations’ Refugee spokesperson in Spain, said countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Greece continued to see higher numbers of applications than Spain. 

“Spain is one of the few countries in the context of the European Union which experienced a substantial increase in the number of asylum applications in 2017.

“However in other countries figures range from fifty thousand to two hundred thousand requests,” she told Spanish media.

Venezuelans made up the largest group in terms of requests for asylum in Spain at around 10,600 applications.

Syrians, Colombians, Ukrainians and Algerians followed with applications numbering around 4,300, 2,500, 2,300 and 1,200 respectively.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Madrid estimates 2018 will see similar trends in the number of requests made.

Vega said the fall in the number of applicants did not mean that the problems causing refugees to flee their home countries had being resolved.

“A much greater effort must be made to support integration that goes beyond exclusively providing shelter. The reality is that the number of persecuted people fleeing conflict continues to grow every day,” she said.

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Joe Gerrard

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