Cyprus Mail

Huge jump in number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum

File photo: the reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia

A TOTAL of 105 unaccompanied minors, 62 per cent of whom were male and 7 per cent under the age of 14, corresponding to 19.8 per cent of the total asylum applications processed in 2015, arrived in Cyprus last year, EU data shows.

Out of the 105 boys and girls, 45 came from Somalia (45 per cent), 25 from Syria (24 per cent) and 20 from Palestine (19 per cent).

More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa reached Europe last year. While that was roughly double the 2014 figure, the number of unaccompanied minors quadrupled, statistics agency Eurostat said.

In 2015, 88,300 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors. While their number always stood between 11, 000 and 13,000 in the EU over the period 2008-2013, it almost doubled in 2014 to reach slightly more than 23,000, then nearly quadrupled in 2015.

In 2015, a substantial majority of unaccompanied minors were males (91 per cent) and over half were aged 16 to 17 (57 per cent, or 50,500), while those aged 14 to 15 accounted for 29 per cent (25,800 people). Those aged 14 and under accounted for 13 per cent (11,800 persons). Around half (51 per cent) of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2015 were Afghans.

In 2015, the highest number of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors was registered in Sweden (with almost 35,300, or 40 per cent of all those registered in the EU Member States), followed by Germany (14,400, or 16 per cent), Hungary (8,800, or 10 per cent) and Austria (8,300, or 9 per cent).

Together these four Member States accounted for three-quarters of all asylum applicants considered unaccompanied minors registered in the EU in 2015.
The largest shares of unaccompanied minors among all young asylum applicants in 2015 were recorded notably in Italy (where 56.6 per cent of all asylum applicants aged under 18 were unaccompanied in 2015) and Sweden (50.1 per cent), followed by the United Kingdom (38.5 per cent), the Netherlands (36.5 per cent), Denmark (33.7 per cent), Finland (33.2 per cent) and Bulgaria (33.1 per cent). In total in the EU, unaccompanied minors accounted for almost a quarter (23.0 per cent) of all asylum applicants aged under 18 in 2015.

Most of the asylum applicants considered unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States were Afghans (51 per cent of the total number of unaccompanied minors registered in 2015). Of the 45,300 Afghans considered unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2015, more than half were registered in Sweden (23,400).
Afghans represented the most numerous citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in 15 EU Member States. Syria (16 per cent of the total number of unaccompanied minors) was the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States in 2015. Of the 14,300 Syrians seeking protection in the EU Member States and considered unaccompanied minors in 2015, around 7 in 10 applied in one of the following three Member States: Germany (4,000), Sweden (3,800) and Hungary (2,200). (CNA)

European Union states disagree on how to handle Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War Two and anti-immigrant sentiment has grown, even in countries that traditionally have a generous approach to helping people seeking refuge.

Four in 10 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Sweden, where some have called for greater checks, suspicious that adults are passing themselves off as children in order to secure protection they might otherwise be denied.

Eurostat’s figures refer specifically to asylum applicants “considered to be unaccompanied minors”, meaning EU states accepted the youngsters’ declared age or established it themselves through age assessment procedures.

More than 90 percent of the minors travelling without a parent or guardian were boys and more than half of them were between 16 and 17 years old. After Sweden, Germany, Hungary and Austria followed as the main destinations for unaccompanied underage asylum seekers.

Seeking to stem the influx of people, the EU has struck a deal with Turkey to stop people crossing from there into the bloc. Turkey hosts some 2.7 million refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.


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Source: Cyprus News Agency


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