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Asylum requests in Belgium up almost 20% last year
The number of asylum applications made in Belgium rose by almost 20% in 2018 to 23,443, and grew faster in the second half of the year, official new figures show.
The highest number of requests came from Syrians (3,702), followed by people from Palestine (2,468), Afghanistan (2,030) and Iraq (1,758).
The figures were published this week by Maggie de Block, Belgium's new migration minister - who replaced Theo Francken in December when his N-VA party quit the federal government coalition.
December was the quietest month for asylum requests, down 35% on the previous year and the lowest December figure in a decade, because of new restrictions that had been imposed by Francken.
The former minister had limited the number of asylum-seeker requests to 50 a day and also instructed staff to give women and families priority. That policy has now been overturned.