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European asylum statistics for 1998

Briefing notes

European asylum statistics for 1998

22 January 1999

The number of asylum applications lodged in 24 European countries in 1998 rose by 27% when compared with 1997 - mostly reflecting the number of people fleeing the conflict in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province.

In 1998, 366,180 persons applied for asylum in 24 European countries, compared with 287,930 in 1997. Just four countries, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland, received two thirds (66%) of all asylum applications lodged in Europe during 1998.

When the number of asylum seekers in 1998 is looked at compared to the total national population of the receiving countries, a different picture emerges. The five countries which received the largest number of asylum seekers in 1998 when compared to their population were Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.

One quarter of all the asylum seekers in Europe in 1998 came from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, mostly Kosovo Albanians. In 1998, around 100,000 citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia applied for asylum in Europe, compared with 49,000 in 1997. Statistics concerning other countries of origin are not yet compiled, but other main countries from which asylum seekers came in 1998 were Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey.

In the 15 member states of the European Union the number of asylum applications rose from 252,000 in 1997 to 299,000 in 1998, an increase of 19%.

The European country which saw the largest increase in the number of asylum seekers in 1998 was Hungary (nearly 600%).