18 June 2010
More than 260 000 people applied for asylum in an EU Member State last year – one fourth of them were minors, according to recent statistics from Eurostat ahead of the World Refugee Day on 20 June.
60 500 people, or almost a fourth of those who sought protection in the EU last year were minors, and more than 12 000 of them were children unaccompanied by an adult.
"The large number of unaccompanied minors shows how important it is that the EU takes this matter very seriously. And we know that the real number of unaccompanied minors coming to Europe is even larger as most of them don't apply for asylum and are therefore not present in the statistics. This is a very vulnerable group that EU needs to prioritise. In May, I put forward an action plan with a code of conduct for EU Member States, outlining how the EU should receive these children. I will continue that work in order to ensure that we always keep the best interests of the child at heart", says EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.
According to Eurostat, the EU granted asylum to 78 800 people in 2009, compared with 75 100 in 2008. Most asylum seekers come from Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the EU countries that granted the highest number of people protection status were the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.
Read more on the Eurostat report, as well as the Action Plan for unaccompanied minors and Cecilia Malmström's and EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva's joint statement ahead of the World Refugee Day on 20 June 2010.