Nearly 90,000 unaccompanied children sought refuge in the EU last year


More than triple the number of lone children applied for asylum in the EU in 2015 compared to the year before, official figures have revealed.

Nearly 90,000 unaccompanied minors sought refuge in the 28 member states- a massive increase compared with 23,160 recorded in 2014.

This means there were 243 claims every day.

Several countries have seen dramatic increases in young refugees arriving without a parent or guardian since the international migration crisis started.

Refugee children

In Britain, the number of asylum applications from unaccompanied children jumped by more than half last year.

Full sets of figures on asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors have now been compiled by the EU's official statistics agency Eurostat.

Refugee children

Analysis of the data reveals:

The total of 88,695 applications registered in 2015 is more than eight times the number seen in 2010.

The 3,043 applications registered in the UK last year accounted for around 3% of the total across the EU, and was the eighth highest number.

Sweden recorded the highest number, with 35,250 - nearly 40% of the total for the whole EU and five times higher than it recorded in 2014 - followed by Germany (14,440), Hungary (8,805) and Austria (8,275).

Around one in eight - or 11,780 - of the applicants were children aged under 14, while the majority - more than 50,000 - were aged 16 or 17.

Afghans accounted for the highest number, with 45,205 - half of the total - and a rise of almost 700% compared with the previous year.

Syrian children made up 15% of the total number, with 13,380 from the war-ravaged country - more than four times the number recorded in 2014 - followed by Eritrea (5,140), Iraq (4,570) and Somalia (3,555), while the country of citizenship was "unknown" for nearly 3,000 applicants.

Refugee children

The findings were revealed after it emerged that children as young as six have arrived in Britain unaccompanied.

Local authorities have a legal duty to care for youngsters who arrive in their area from abroad seeking international protection and councils such as Kent have seen sharp rises in the number they are responsible for.

Plans to introduce a new national scheme to disperse child asylum seekers around the country were confirmed earlier this week.

In a separate development, as many as 3,000 more refugees - most of them children - will be brought to Britain under a new resettlement scheme announced by the Government on Thursday.