The Latest: Granted asylum requests dropped in EU in 2018

The Latest: Granted asylum requests dropped in EU in 2018
Migrants disembark after being transferred to Maltese army boats at sea and brought to Valletta harbor, Malta, Saturday, April 13, 2019. Malta has announced a deal that see four European Union nations taking in the 64 migrants rescued at sea off Libya 10 days ago. Malta announced Saturday that the migrants will be distributed among Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Jonathan Borg)

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

The European Union’s statistics agency says more than 300,000 people were granted asylum within the bloc last year, a drop of almost 40 percent from 2017.

Eurostat said Thursday that around 333,400 people were deemed eligible for international protection, most of them Syrians, Afghans or Iraqis fleeing conflict or persecution.

The agency says 67,000 of the total 96,100 Syrians determined to be bona fide refugees across the 28-nation EU in 2018 were granted asylum in Germany.

Germany, Italy and France were the EU countries that recognized the most refugees.

Well over 1 million migrants entered the EU in 2015, a relatively small number compared to arrivals in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. However, the influx caused a political crisis and immigration became a hot-button topic. .

EU countries remain deeply divided over the best approach despite the sharp drop in new arrivals.

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12:50 p.m.

A survey has found that Germans are increasingly hostile toward asylum-seekers, whereas prejudices toward homeless or gay people have declined.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which commissioned the survey, said Thursday that 54.1% of respondents expressed negative opinions about asylum-seekers, up from 49.5% in 2016 and 44% in 2014.

Germany saw a significant increase in migrant arrivals in 2016, with almost 746,000 people seeking asylum that year. Numbers have since declined again, with about 186,000 asylum requests last year.

The representative telephone survey, which is conducted every two years, involved 1,890 respondents and took place between September and February.

The study also examined for the first time how receptive Germans are to conspiracy theories. It found that about 46% of respondents believed secret organizations influence political decision-making.