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Small drop in EU asylum claims in 2016: Eurostat

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Some 1.2 million people sought asylum in the European Union in 2016, slightly fewer than in the previous year, the bloc's statistics office said on Thursday.

The majority of those seeking asylum last year were Syrians, followed by Afghans and Iraqis. The Eurostat data also showed that Germany, Italy and France were their main destinations.

In 2015, 1.26 million people claimed asylum in the EU, Eurostat said. The figures relate to first-time asylum seekers in the country where they have applied for refuge.

The EU has been seeking to crack down on arrivals of refugees and migrants after taking in some 1.6 million people from 2014 to 2016.

Among other measures, it struck a deal with Turkey to stop illegal migrants from crossing into EU member Greece.

In an intensifying dispute with the EU, Turkey on Wednesday threatened it could cancel the deal.

(Reporting by Farah Salhi; Editing by Toby Davis)

 

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