Number claiming asylum in EU countries jumps as much as 800%
The number of people claiming asylum in EU countries jumped by as much as 800% last year, new figures have revealed.
Finland registered 32,150 first-time applicants in 2015 - a rise of nearly 10 times, or 822%, on the 3,490 recorded in the previous year.
The dramatic surge was disclosed as statistics released by the EU's data agency provided fresh evidence of the unprecedented scale of the influx into the bloc.
Eurostat said a record total of 1,255,600 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the 28 member states - more than double the number in 2014.
Syrians accounted for the highest number of claims, doubling compared with the previous year to reach 362,800.
The number of Afghans seeking refuge in the EU nearly quadrupled to 178,200 while applications by Iraqis increased seven-fold to 121,500.
Citizens of the three countries made up more than half of the total first-time applicants registered last year.
Germany has received by far the largest number of asylum seekers, with nearly half of the Syrians who applied for the first time registered in the country.
Finland saw the sharpest increase in first-time applicants, followed by Hungary (323%), Austria (233%) and Belgium (178%).
Eurostat also revealed that at the end of last year there were almost a million applications pending, with almost half being considered in Germany.
On Thursday analysis of Home Office figures showed that the number of people claiming asylum in the UK as a proportion of the population has reached its highest level for 11 years.
Claims from 38,900 main applicants and dependants such as children were recorded in 2015 - a rise of 20% on 2014.
About one in 30 of those who sought asylum in the EU last year lodged their claim in Britain.