This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and first instance decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) . Asylum is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory. It is granted to a person who is unable to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

The number of first time asylum applicants [1] in the EU-28 decreased by -55 % in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of 2016, while it increased by 10 % compared with the second quarter of 2017. Overall, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU-28 during the third quarter of 2017 was 164 300, a number around the levels recorded in 2014, before the 2015 peaks (Table 1,Table 2). Out of the 177 000 total asylum applicants (i.e. including repeat applicants), 164 000 (93 %) were first time applicants (Table 2, Table 3).

Citizens of 146 countries sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the third quarter of 2017. Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging 26 600, 12 500 and 9 900 applications respectively (Table 1).

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