BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union states granted asylum to more than twice as many people in 2016 as they did in 2015, mostly to people fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, the bloc's statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday.
Just over 700,000 refugees were granted asylum in 2016 compared to about 330,000 in 2015, it said. Germany granted asylum to 445,000 refugees in 2016, three times more than it did in 2015, distantly followed by Sweden, Italy and France.
While the European border agency Frontex reported a drop in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in the EU from 2015 to 2016, the increase in the number of people being granted asylum may at least partly reflect lengthy procedures.
More than half of all those given asylum in the EU in 2016 came from Syria, with one in 10 coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, Eurostat said.
Syrians also had the best chance of winning asylum, with over 98 percent of applications receiving a positive reply, followed by Eritreans and stateless asylum-seekers.
Migrants from the Balkans and south Asia were most likely to be refused asylum, Eurostat added.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Tom Heneghan