Italy approved 16,185 asylum applications in 2013 and rejected 9,060, according to figures from the EU’s Eurostat agency. A total of 3,110 people were given refugee status, while 13,075 more people at risk were given lower levels of protection and allowed to stay in the country.
Nigerians, Pakistanis and Somalis made up the highest numbers of asylum-seekers in Italy, compared to the broader European picture where most people seeking refuge in 2013 came from Syria, Russia and Afghanistan.
Across Europe, the number of people seeking asylum jumped from 335,000 in 2012 to 435,000 last year. Fifty thousand of these came from Syria, although the EU’s 28 countries took just a fraction of the 2.5 million registered refugees fleeing the country’s three-year conflict.
The new figures show that Italy received six percent of the EU’s total asylum applications, while Germany topped the chart with 29 percent, followed by France, Sweden and the UK.
While Italy is among the top countries in Europe for asylum-seekers, the number is relatively low when compared to the country’s large population. There were just 470 applications per million people in Italy last year, well below the European average of 860 and far from Sweden’s 5,680 or the 5,330 in nearby Malta.
Although the Eurostat data show that Italy was better than many European countries in granting asylum, the country has recently come under fire for its treatment of people seeking asylum. Last month the UK’s Supreme Court blocked the deportation of four asylum seekers, over claims that they would face mistreatment if sent back to Italy.