In total, 23,935 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands last year, a 66% increase on 2013 and the highest level since 2002, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.
The biggest group – 10,000 – were people from Syria and Palestinians who reached the Netherlands via Syria, the CBS said. Eritreans accounted for around 4,000 refugees.
The CBS says the true figure is actually higher because family members do not have to submit a separate application. Including family members, the total number of refugees is around 28,000.
The highest number of refugees to come to the Netherlands was almost 53,000 people in 1994, forcing the authorities to put them up in tents. Most of them were escaping the fighting in the former Yugoslavia.
Last October, junior justice minister Fred Teeven said up to 65,000 people could request asylum in the Netherlands over the year. This followed reports that in May 1,000 refugees a week, mainly from Syria and Eritrea, were arriving in the Netherlands.
The surge led the minister to step up border controls and increase efforts to crack down on people smuggling gangs.
Teeven also ran into problems with plans to house thousands of refugees in a holiday village next to a village of around 100 people.
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