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Record-breaking 13,000 asylum seekers arrive in Spain in 2015

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Record-breaking 13,000 asylum seekers arrive in Spain in 2015
A Syrian family in the Moroccan town of Nador wait to cross into Melilla in September. Photo: AFP
10:16 CET+01:00
A record 13,000 asylum seekers were expected to arrive in Spain in 2015 but that figure is still less than 1 percent of the European Union total.

As of mid-December, Spain had received some 12,500 applications for asylum, with that figure expected to surpass 13,000 by the end of the year.

That figure is more than twice the 2014 number of 5,895.

The majority of the new arrivals, around 7,0000, were Syrians arriving in Spain's North African enclave of Melilla, according to the UN's refugee agency UNHCR.

But the figure for the number of asylum seekers arriving in Spain was less than one percent of the total for the European Union.

Germany officially hit the one-million mark in early December while Sweden, a country with a far smaller population than Spain was expecting 190,000 new arrivals in 2015.

After initially refusing to accept a mandatory quota agreement from the EU, Spain's government said in early September that it would accept 14,931 refugees bowing to public pressure within Spain that the nation should shoulder its share of the burden.

Public campaigns were launched across Spain calling on the government to accept more refugees and hundreds of councils have measures in place to welcome refugees risking their lives to reach Europe.

The first group – just a dozen people relocated from Italy- arrived in Madrid in November.

In related news, the number of people arriving via boat on the shores of Andalusia was steady, with 3,149 people arriving in this fashion in 2015 against 3,170 last year.

In the Canary Islands, however, the number of migrants arriving by sea soared from 288 in 2014 to 844 this year.

Over one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2015, nearly half of them Syrians, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Wednesday.

The milestone marks an almost five-fold increase over 2014 figures, whenthe UNHCR recorded 219,000 arrivals via the perilous sea crossing.

The figures underscore the enormous impact that Syria's nearly five-yearcivil war has had on changing migration patterns.

The conflict has forced more than four million people to flee the country,but until this year, an overwhelming majority of them were spread among Syria's neighbours.

While Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey continue to host massive numbers ofSyrians displaced by war, the UN figures show that beginning in the spring increasingly large numbers of Syrians resolved to reach Europe.

With AFP

 

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