TIRANA, March 14- Following relevancy from last issue’s story on Albania’s comprising the second biggest group of emigrants to receive a EU passport in 2017, the European Institute of Statistics, Eurostat, released new data on the numbers of first-time asylum seekers in EU for 2018, where Albanians were the ninth in the list with 19 thousand applicants.
Eurostat writes on its report that in 2018, 580,800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union, down by 11% compared with 2017 (654,600), and less than half of the number recorded in the peak year 2015 when 1,256,600 first-time asylum applicants were registered. The number of asylum applicants in 2018 is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.
Syria was the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2018, a position it has held each year since 2013. In 2018, the number of Syrian first-time asylum applicants in the EU were 81 thousand persons or 13.9 percent of the entire number of first-time applicants. They are followed by Afghanis accounted for 7.1 percent of the total number of first-timers at almost 41 thousand asylum applicants, and Iraqis comprising 6.8 percent, 39.5 thousand persons.
The main countries of destination were Germany, France, and Greece. Germany registered 28 percent of the whole of first-time asylum seekers, amounting to 162 thousand persons. France had 110 thousand applicants or 19 percent, followed then by Greece at 11 percent, or 65 thousand persons applying.
Albanians comprised 3 percent of the whole of first-time asylum seekers in the EU countries. The number has decreased over the years, reaching a record number of 69 thousand asylum seekers in 2015. The number then dropped by half in 2016 to 33 thousand applicants, and then following a gradual decrease with 26 thousand Albanians applying for asylum in 2017, and now 19 thousand in 2018.
Albanian economic magazine has worked on some metadata regarding the number of applicants per population. According to the statistics Albania is still in the first place, as 6.6 persons in 1000 are leaving the country. They are followed by Georgians, with 4.6 in 1000, and Syrians at 4.4 per 1000 persons. This data show that Albanians surpass even the emigration of citizens from war-conflicted countries.