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Number of Refugees to Europe Increases to Record 1.3 Million

About half of them come from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

ByABC News
August 2, 2016, 7:02 PM

— LONDON -- The number of people who left their homes and applied for asylum in Europe surged to a record 1.3 million in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 1985-2015 Eurostat data.

Last year, Europe saw more asylum applicants than in the previous peak years of 1992 and 2002 combined. Last year's number amounts to about one-tenth of all applications received in the past 30 years in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland. About half of the 1.3 million come from only three countries: Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – nations that have been devastated by war and conflict.

The new report also found that a majority of citizens in all EU countries disapprove of how the bloc is dealing with the refugee crisis.

“The highest disapproval is in some of the places with the largest number of refugees,” Phillip Connor, research associate with the Pew Research Center, told ABC News.

Countries such as Sweden and Hungary, recipients of large numbers of refugees, had some of the highest disapproval rates, the report shows.

The flow of refugees has also impacted European countries’ population makeup. In several countries, such as Sweden, Hungary, Norway and Austria, the share of the foreign-born increased by 1 percent or more in 2015 alone.

“That’s a significant population shift in one year,” Connor said. “It might not seem much, but in the U.S. it took a decade from 2005 to 2015 to increase the foreign-born by 1 percent of the total population.”

Since 2012, Germany has been the primary destination country for asylum seekers in Europe, receiving 442,000 asylum applications in just 2015. Measured per capita, Hungary, followed by Sweden and Austria, received the highest numbers of asylum seekers in 2015. In comparison, France and the UK received roughly the same number of applications in 2015 as in years prior to last year’s refugee surge.

The number of children reaching Europe alone with no parents or guardians increased in 2015 to about 7 percent of all asylum applicants.