The FINANCIAL -- In 2017, 31 400 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors.
This was nearly half the number recorded in 2016 (63 200 unaccompanied minors registered) and almost one-third of the peak registered in 2015 (95 200), but over two and a half times higher than the annual average during the period 2008-2013 (around 12 000 per year). In total in the EU, unaccompanied minors accounted for 15% of all asylum applicants aged less than 18.
In 2017, a majority of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum were males (89%). Considering age, over two-thirds were aged 16 to 17 (77%, or about 24 200 persons), while those aged 14 to 15 accounted for 16% (around 5 000 persons) and those aged less than 14 for 6% (almost 2 000 persons). Afghan (17%, or around 5 300 persons) continued to be the main citizenship of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU.
Almost 1 in 3 applied for asylum in Italy
In 2017, the highest number of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors was registered in Italy (with over 10 000 unaccompanied minors, or 32% of all those registered in the EU Member States), followed by Germany (9 100, or 29%), Greece (2 500, or 8%), the United Kingdom (2 200, or 7%), Austria (1 400, or 4%) as well as Sweden (1 300, or 4%) and the Netherlands (1 200, or 4%). Together these seven countries accounted for nearly 90% of all asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors registered in the EU. Among these Member States, the number of asylum seekers considered to be unaccompanied minors rose compared with the previous year in Italy (nearly 4 000 more unaccompanied minors in 2017 than in 2016, or +66%) and increased slightly in Greece (100 more, or +4%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in Germany (26 900 fewer, or -75%), Austria (2 500 fewer, or -65%), the United Kingdom (1 000 fewer, or -31%), Sweden (900 fewer, or -40%) and the Netherlands (500 fewer, or -31%).
More than six in ten young asylum seekers were unaccompanied minors in Italy
Among Member States with more than 1 000 asylum seekers considered to be unaccompanied minors in 2017, the largest share of such applicants was recorded in Italy (where 65% of all asylum applicants aged less than 18 were unaccompanied), followed by the United Kingdom (29%) and the Netherlands (28%).
Afghan: main citizenship
Afghanistan (17% of the total number of unaccompanied minors registered) was in 2017 the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States. Of the 5 300 Afghans considered unaccompanied minors in the EU, two out of five were registered in Germany (2 200). Afghans represented the most numerous citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in nine EU Member States. Eritrea was the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States. Of the 3 100 Eritreans seeking protection in the EU Member States and considered unaccompanied minors, nearly half applied in Germany (1 500).