PARIS (Reuters) – The number of people fleeing war or strife for stabler parts of the world fell marginally in 2016 from a record high in 2015, with the lion’s share of those seeking asylum doing so in Germany, the OECD said on Thursday.
In a report on broader migration trends, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said that the biggest exodus of asylum-seekers was from war-ravaged Syria, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.
Asylum request numbers continued to drop in the early months of this year, it added.
For a fourth straight year, Germany registered by far the largest number of asylum applications – 48 percent of a world total of 1.64 million in 2016.
The United States, where the bulk of asylum applications are from Latin Americans, was a distant second, registering 262,000 asylum applications.
The total number of applications dropped by one percent from 2015, said the Paris-based OECD, which noted that many of those who arrived in Germany in 2015 filed formal asylum applications in 2016.
When compared to the population of the host country, Germany registered more than 10 times as many asylum requests as the United States and four times as many as Italy, another key destination for many migrants, notably from Nigeria.
The OECD, a think-tank funded by the governments of its 35 member countries, most of them wealthy economies and relatively stable politically, suggested the slight dip in asylum requests in 2016 may be followed by a more pronounced reduction this year.
In the first six months of 2017, the total number of landings on European shores reached 85,000, around 10 times less than at the peak in the second half of 2015, it said in a statement that accompanied its report.
With two in three refugees arriving in Europe, OECD chief Angel Gurria said: “Improving the integration of immigrants and their children, including refugees, is vital to delivering a more prosperous, inclusive future for all.”
While OECD countries, primarily in Western Europe, received 1.6 million asylum requests in 2016, Turkey alone was providing temporary protection to another three million Syrians, the organization said.
(Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Toby Davis)