BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union's asylum agency said Wednesday that the number of people seeking asylum in Europe has hit a six-year high, with Syrian nationals once again seeking international protection more than people from any other country.
The agency said that around 98,000 asylum applications were lodged in September in the 27 EU member countries plus Norway and Switzerland, together known as the EU+. People who arrive in Europe fleeing conflict or persecution are far more likely to be granted asylum than those fleeing poverty alone.
Some 15,500 Syrians officially sought international protection, while 13,700 Afghans applied. Afghans had been the largest applicant group every month since the Taliban takeover in the summer of 2021.
Turkish nationals made up the third largest group, with 5,800 applications in September, an all-time high for a country that the EU has sent would-be migrants back to. September also saw record levels of Indians, Bangladeshis, Tunisians, Georgians, Moroccans and Egyptians apply, the agency said.
At the same time, large numbers of people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued to register for temporary protection status - which helps give them short-term access to financial, housing and employment aid.
The agency said that "these simultaneous challenges have put national systems in several EU+ countries under considerable pressure."
Well over one million people, most of them Syrians fleeing the conflict there, entered the EU in 2015, overwhelming reception facilities and sparking one of the bloc's biggest ever political crises. Around 173 000 monthly applications were recorded in the fall of that year, almost double the September level.
EU countries still bicker over who should take responsibility for people arriving without authorization and whether their neighbors and partners should be obliged to help.
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