Asylum Seekers in EU Doubled in 2015

Asylum Seekers in EU Doubled in 2015Asylum Seekers in EU Doubled in 2015

The number of people seeking asylum in the European Union in 2015 reached 1,255,600—more than double that of the previous year, new figures suggest.

Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans topped the list of applicants, with more than a third going to Germany, Eurostat says.

Thousands more migrants are arriving in Greece from Turkey every day, BBC reported.

More than 10,000 are now stranded in northern Greece on the border with Macedonia, as EU countries have reimposed internal border controls.

At a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said migrants had to stay in neighboring countries. He also vowed continued support for Turkey.

Speaking after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, European Council President Donald Tusk said that, for the first time, a “European consensus” was emerging over how to handle the migrant crisis.

Tusk—who is on a diplomatic tour ahead of an EU-Turkey summit on Monday—also said he had been told by Erdogan that Turkey was ready to take back all migrants apprehended in Turkish waters.

The EU on Friday also announced the first payments of a €3 billion ($3.3 billion; £2.3 billion) package aimed at helping Turkey cope with migrants on its soil.

Hansjorg Haber, the head of the EU’s delegation to Turkey, said a large amount of the money would be spent on humanitarian aid, followed by schooling and infrastructure for migrants.

“Some €400,000 had already been disbursed,” Haber said.

The Turkish government says that it has spent €8 billion on Syrian refugees. Turkey, which is already hosting 2.5 million migrants, has been reluctant to readmit those who have managed to reach the EU.

Sending people back to Turkey is also problematic for the EU. International law forbids returns of asylum seekers to countries if there is a risk of death or persecution there.

However, an EU-Turkey action plan agreed last October says those who do not qualify for international protection—that is, economic migrants—can and should be sent back.

The International Organization for Migration says 120,369 migrants have arrived in Greece from Turkey so far this year and at least 321 have died en route.