63,290 lone children applied for EU asylum last year, figures show


More than 60,000 lone children applied for asylum in EU countries last year, new figures show.

The bloc's member states registered a total of 63,290 unaccompanied minors seeking international protection in 2016 - equivalent to 173 every day.

This was a fall of a third compared with the 96,465 in 2015, when the international migration crisis was at its peak.

But the tally was still around five times the annual average of approximately 12,000 seen between 2008 and 2013.

A report from Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, said 89% of the unaccompanied minors seeking asylum last year were male, and more than two thirds were aged 16 to 17.

Those aged 14 to 15 accounted for 21%, while one in ten applicants was under 14.

More than a third (38%) of the young refugees were Afghans, and almost a fifth (19%) were Syrians.

Nearly 36,000 of the under-18s seeking refuge in the EU last year were registered in Germany - more than half of the total recorded across the EU.

Germany was followed by Italy (6,020, or 10%) and Austria (3,900, or 6%), while the United Kingdom had the fourth highest number with 3,175.

This was slightly down on the previous year, when the UK received 3,253 asylum applications from unaccompanied children.

Earlier this year it was disclosed that Britain is to accept an extra 130 refugee children under a resettlement scheme after places were under-counted due to an administrative error.

Ministers had previously faced a backlash when they announced that 350 unaccompanied minors would arrive from Europe through the so-called Dubs amendment - well below the 3,000 campaigners had called for.

The Government announced last month that the number of children resettled under the programme will rise to 480.

Last year in total the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to more than 8,000 children.