Asylum claims rise 21 pct in Greece, 13 pct in EU, in December-January period

New applications for asylum shot up in the one-month period between December and January by 31 percent in the European Union as a whole and by 21 percent in Greece in particular, data published by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) have shown.

According to the Monthly Trend Analysis Report for January published earlier this month, the biggest spike in new asylum applications was seen by Italy (41 percent), Belgium (36 percent) and Germany (31 percent).

The number of overall new applications in the EU in January came to 36,586, compared to 32,478 in December, representing a rise of 13 percent. Meanhile, the EASO noted that compared with January 2013, the number of applications this January rose by 21 percent across the bloc.

The countries receiving the largest number of new applications were Germany (14,463), Sweden (4,461), France (3,894), Italy (3,759) and Great Britain (1,968).

Comapred with December, the number of new applications for asylum in Greece rose by around 1,000, or 21 percent, in January. Most were submitted by nationals from Afghanistan (121) and Pakistan (105).

The Public Order Ministry attributes the significant rise in new applications to the work being done by the recently established Asylum Service, which has taken over from the Greek Police.

In a previous interview with Kathimerini, the head of the new service, Maria Stavropoulou, suggested that since taking over it had managed to reduce the backlog of applications from around 45,000 to 27,000 by last month.

However, according to the EASO report, Greece was still among the countries with the biggest number of cases that remain unprocessed in the first instance.

In the EU overall, 244,650 applications were waiting to be processed in January.