BRUSSELS: Refugees from Syria drove a jump in asylum requests in Europe last year, according to official figures issued Monday.
Almost half a million people requested asylum in Europe last year, 30 percent more than in 2012 and the highest number yet registered.
Syria, where war is raging into a fourth deadly year, followed by Russia and Kosovo, accounted for the biggest increases, said the European Asylum Support Office.
Syrians accounted for around 50,000 of the 435,760 applications registered in 2013.
The main receiving countries in 2013 were Germany, France, Sweden, Britain and Italy, which is being swamped by migrants traveling by boat – 2,600 were rescued this weekend alone. Helping Italy will be at the center of EU talks in Milan Tuesday.
With less than 100,000 Syrian refugees currently in Europe compared with the over 3 million in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, EU ministers will also discuss resettling those fleeing Syria.