EU asylum applications at 580,000, down 11 pct in 2018

The EU saw 580,800 first-time asylum application in 2018, a drop of 11 percent, the bloc's statistical office reported on Thursday.

The number of applicants was less than half the number seen in the peak year 2015, when there were 1.26 million first-time asylum applicants, Eurostat added.

Nationals from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq continued to be the top groups seeking international protection across the EU last year, accounting for almost 30 percent of all first-time applicants.

Germany, with 161,900 first-time applicants, was the most popular EU destination for asylum seekers, followed by France and Greece with 110,500 and 65,000 applicants, respectively.

The EU statistical office added that nearly 900,000 asylum applications were still pending as of the end of last year.

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