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Applications for EU asylum in April at lowest level in a decade, agency reports

Applications for EU asylum in April at lowest level in a decade, agency reports

Asylum applications in Europe fell in April to their lowest level for over a decade, as borders closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to European Union figures.

The number of asylum applications declined to 8,730 during April, an 86 percent drop from 61,421 in February, data from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) show. The agency also registered a 44 percent drop in asylum applications from February to March, when states began imposing lockdowns.

“The situation for those in need of asylum has undoubtedly been very challenging,” EASO executive director Nina Gregori told Reuters. “Already fleeing violence and persecution, the Covid-19 crisis has certainly compounded their situations.”

Most applications during 2020 through April were by Syrians, followed by Afghans, Venezuelans and Colombians, EASO said. In recent years, the EU has also blocked off previously used overland migrant routes and provided aid to Libya and Turkey to inhibit crossings by sea into Europe.