Asylum requests for European Union increase by 50 percent
Would be immigrants embark into a bus to be transferred to a temporary accomodation center on March 2, 2011 after arriving in a port on the Italian island of Lampedusa. [AFP]

There were more than 100,000 asylum requests across the European Union in the three months to June, most of them from Russians, Syrians and Kosovars, a 50-percent year-on-year rise, EU data showed Tuesday.

The Eurostat statistics agency reported 16,845 requests for asylum from Russians in the second quarter, with a rejection rate of 80 percent.

On the other hand, EU nations accepted 90 percent of requests made by Syrian refugees and 60 percent of applications by Somalis, Afghans and Iranians.

In all, 8,310 Syrians applied for asylum, just a little more than from Kosovo with 8,140, followed by 6,000 Pakistanis and 4,285 Somalis.

Germany received the largest number of requests at 26,400, followed by France with 16,400, and Hungary and Britain at around 9,000 each. Italy recorded almost 6,000 applications.

On June 31, Germany had stacked up a backlog of 95,000 asylum requests for processing, followed by Greece with 50,000 and France 30,000.

France and Belgium rejected 81 percent of applications in the second quarter and Germany 67 percent while Italy and Sweden were among the most hospitable nations, agreeing to around half of the requests made.

Hungary faced a 25-fold increase in requests to 9,350, Bulgaria a four-fold increase to 980 and Poland a three-fold increase to 7,445.

In 2012, there were more than 330,000 asylum requests in the EU, 70 percent of them in Germany, France, Sweden, Britain and Belgium.

EU asylum policies are under the spotlight after a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa last week in which more than 300 African asylum-seekers are feared dead.

The 155 survivors of the tragedy are formally considered criminal suspects under an Italian law aimed at cracking down on irregular migrants.

The EU's executive called Tuesday for member states to provide more resources to launch Mediterranean-wide search and rescue patrols to prevent future refugee tragedies.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]