By Aysu Bicer
ANKARA (AA) - The gap between Afghans and Syrians in asylum applications in European Union countries has been narrowing since December last year, according to an analysis released Thursday by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
Syrians were still the biggest group of asylum applicants in EU+ countries in July, it said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, total applications hit their highest level, with nearly 50,000 applications for international protection lodged in the EU in July 2021, remarkably more than in June (+8%).
"The most common countries of origin were Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq," it noted.
Applications by Afghans increased for the fifth consecutive month to about 7,300 (+21% from June), close to the number of applications by Syrians, with 8,500, (+14%).
"Turks [2,500] were the third largest group in July, after their applications increased by half from June," it said.
A peak of applications by Iraqis (2,300) was partly because of the irregular migration route via Belarus, it noted.
In contrast, applications by many North and West African nationalities contracted, including Moroccans (1,500) and Malians (570).
For many other nationalities, it appears that COVID-19-induced constraints on asylum-related migration have lately had a lesser impact.