Netherlands says September 'record' month for asylum seekers

21st October 2015, Comments 0 comments

The Netherlands said Wednesday it registered a record number of asylum seekers in September as the flow of migrants to Europe, mainly Syrians fleeing war, continues to surge.

"The number of asylum seekers registered in the country reached a record number of 8,400 last month," the Central Statistics Office (CBS) said, adding that it was the highest number ever recorded since authorities started counting in 1975.

The majority -- some 5,200 -- of those registering were fleeing Syria, followed by Eritrea and Iraq.

The Netherlands, with 17 million inhabitants and one of Europe's most densely-populated countries, has now received some 23,805 asylum seekers since April, almost as many as in the whole of last year, the CBS said.

The last monthly record of 5,200 asylum requests was in May 1999 when people were fleeing the aftermath of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Over the coming two years, the Netherlands plans to take in more than 7,000 people as EU nations share out the burden in Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

As in other European countries, tensions are flaring in the Netherlands over the crisis. At least one refugee centre has been attacked, prompting strong condemnation by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The far-right party of anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders in recent weeks has also seen a spike in popularity in recent weeks.

Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Klaas Dijkhoff this week in an open letter to asylum seekers warned they would receive an "austere reception" in the Netherlands.

More than 600,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have braved the dangerous journey to Europe's shores so far this year.

The trip that most have made on inflatable boats from Turkey to Greece has left over 3,000 dead or missing.

The goal for many is the EU's biggest economy Germany, which expects to take in up to one million refugees this year.

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© 2015 AFP

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