Asylum applications have dropped by almost one third so far this year, largely due to coronavirus-related restrictions, the European Union's asylum agency (EASO) said on Wednesday.
The Malta-based body recorded 295,075 applications between January and August, down by 31% compared to the same period in 2019. The data covers the EU plus Norway and Switzerland.
"This indicates that reduced mobility and pandemic emergency measures are still affecting the number of applications being lodged with national asylum authorities," EASO noted.
The agency recorded significant increases in asylum applications in June and July following the relaxation of lockdown measures, while in August they fell by 7% compared to July, to around 40,000.
Syrian, Afghans, Venezuelans and Colombians continue to lodge the most applications, EASO said, adding that its analyses suggest that "these applicants are not new arrivals."