Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty Images

Spike in asylum applications to European Union

European statistics agency reports spike from second quarter, with more than one-third of asylum seekers from Syria

The number of people seeking asylum in the European Union (EU) in the third quarter has nearly doubled, to 413,800 from about 210,000, compared to those seeking asylum in the second quarter, according to figures published Thursday by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics bureau.

Eurostat reported that 33 percent of the asylum seekers were Syrian, 14 percent were from Afghanistan and 11 percent were Iraqis. The number of Syrians and Iraqis has tripled, while the number of Afghans doubled to more than 56,000 for the period.

A Eurostat spokeswoman noted these numbers only reflect those who applied for asylum. The total number of people who have migrated to the EU is much higher.

More than 909,000 refugees and migrants have entered the EU in 2015, four times as many as the 219,000 in 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Additionally, about 3,600 people have died this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea or jumping onboard trains heading to the United Kingdom from France, according to the IOM.

The EU estimates there are more than 800,000 asylum applications still pending in its member countries. Many EU states have complained that they lack the resources necessary to process the cases in a timely manner, and they have appealed to the European Commission, the bloc's executive body, for more resources.

Eurostat reports that more than half of the requests for asylum were made in two countries: Germany and Hungary. Hungary received about 108,000 first-time applicants in the third quarter, the highest number relative to population in the EU, despite its efforts to keep out refugees.

During August alone, refugees entered Hungary at a rate of more than 10,000 per day, Reuters reported, in an attempt to reach Germany. Many boarded trains in Budapest to reach Munich and other German cities. Hungary has since shut its borders to refugees and built a mile-long razor-wire fence on the border with Croatia and Serbia to prevent more people from coming.

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