Unaccompanied minors accounted for 7% of all asylum applicants aged less than 18, figures published by Eurostat on Tuesday show.
The EU granted protection status to 295,800 asylum seekers last year, compared to the 316,200 granted protection in 2018, Eurostat figures show.
13,800 unaccompanied minors sought international protection in the 27 Member States of the European Union in 2019. The number decreased by nearly 20% over the previous year.
85% of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum were males (85%). The figures show that 1,500 persons were aged less than 14 while the majority, 9,200 individuals, were aged 16 to 17. 22% were aged 14 to 15.
The data shows that two in three applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2019 were citizens of Afghanistan (30%), Syria and Pakistan (both 10%), as well as Somalia, Guinea or Iraq (5% each).
4 in 10 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Greece or Germany
The figures show that the highest number of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors were registered in Greece (24%), followed by Germany (19%), Belgium (9%), and the Netherlands (8%), in 2019.
It also emerged that the highest increases in Member States with more than 500 asylum seekers considered to be unaccompanied minors compared with the previous year were recorded in Austria (+120%) followed by Belgium (+63%), Greece (+26%) and Slovenia (+21%). The largest decrease was registered in Italy (-83%) and Germany (-34%).
The statistics show that every third unaccompanied in the EU was an Afghan citizen. Of the 4, 200 Afghans considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU, 3 in 5 applied in Greece (1,200) while in Belgium and Austria, 600 applied in each country. Syria was the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers considered unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States, followed by Pakistan.
In Malta only 20 asylum applicants were considered to be unaccompanied minors, 84.2% of which were male.