Introduction to asylum in Europe

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How many people apply for asylum in Europe?

In 2002 381,623 people applied for asylum in the European Union - a decrease of 1.7% (6,749) in applications on 2001 when there were 388,372 applications in the EU. Since 1999 there has been an overall decrease of 3.8% in applications in the European Union (there were 396,737 applications for asylum in 1999).

It is often assumed that applications rise year on year in Europe and the figures above show this is not the case.

The early 1990s

In the early 1990s there was a rise in asylum applications in Europe.* This was due in the main to the Balkan wars and the resultant rise in applications from the countries of former Yugoslavia, as well as from Romania and Turkey. Applications from former Yugoslavia accounted for just under a quarter of applications during the five years 1990-1994.

*Figures for Europe are for the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Esto

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