'Nearly 90,000 minors sought asylum in 2015'
Some 88,300 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in the European Union in 2015, 13 percent of them children younger than 14, crossing continents without their parents to seek a place of safety, EU data showed yesterday.
More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa reached Europe last year. While that was roughly double the 2014 figure, the number of unaccompanied minors quadrupled, statistics agency Eurostat said.
Minors made up about a third of the 1.26 million first-time asylum applications filed in the EU last year.
European Union states disagree on how to handle Europe's worst migration crisis since World War Two and anti-immigrant sentiment has grown, even in countries that traditionally have a generous approach to helping people seeking refuge.
Four in 10 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Sweden, where some have called for greater checks, suspicious that adults are passing themselves off as children in order to secure protection they might otherwise be denied.
Eurostat's figures refer specifically to asylum applicants "considered to be unaccompanied minors", meaning EU states accepted the youngsters' declared age or established it themselves through age assessment procedures.