In 2018, 19 700 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors. This is down by more than one third compared with 2017 (31 400) and below the 2014 level (23 100), when the first increase was observed after remaining at a relatively constant level of around 12 000 per year between 2008 and 2013. In 2018, at the EU level, unaccompanied minors accounted for 10% of all asylum applicants aged less than 18.
In 2018, a majority of unaccompanied minors were males (86%). Three quarters were aged 16 to 17 (14 800 persons), while those aged 14 to 15 accounted for 17% (3 400 persons) and those aged less than 14 for 7% (1 400 persons). Over half of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2018 were the citizens of six countries: Afghanistan (16%), Eritrea (10%), Pakistan or Syria (both 7%) and Guinea or Iraq (both 6%).
Four in ten unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Germany or Italy In 2018, the highest number of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors was registered in Germany (4 100 unaccompanied minors, or 21% of all those registered in the EU Member States), followed by Italy (3 900, or 20%), the United Kingdom (2 900, or 15%) and Greece (2 600, or 13%). Among the Member States with more than 1 000 asylum seekers considered to be unaccompanied minors in 2018, numbers rose most compared with the previous year in the United Kingdom (700 more unaccompanied minors in 2018 than in 2017, or +30%) ahead of Greece (200 more unaccompanied minors in 2018 than in 2017, or +8%).
By contrast, the largest decreases among Member States with more than 1 000 asylum seekers were recorded in Italy (6 100 fewer unaccompanied minors in 2018 than in 2017, or -61%) and Germany (5 000 fewer, or -55%). Over half of asylum seekers below 18 years old were unaccompanied minors in Slovenia and Bulgaria. The largest shares of unaccompanied minors among all minor asylum applicants in 2018 were recorded in Slovenia (70%) and Bulgaria (57%), followed by the United Kingdom (31%), Romania (25%), Cyprus (24%), Denmark, the Netherlands and Slovakia (all 22%). Above half of unaccompanied minors were citizens of six countries: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Pakistan, Syria, Guinea or Iraq.
Of the 3 200 Afghans considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2018, almost half were registered in two countries: Greece (800 applicants) or Germany (700). Afghans represented the most numerous citizenship of asylum seekers considered to be unaccompanied minors in eight EU Member States. Of the 2 000 Eritreans seeking protection in the EU Member States and considered to be unaccompanied minors in 2018, 3 in 10 applied in the United Kingdom (600), while of the 1 400 Pakistanis, 6 out of 10 applied for asylum in Greece (800). Of the 1 300 Syrians registered as unaccompanied minors 3 in 10 applied in Greece (400), while of the 1 200 Guineans more than 70% applied in Germany (500) or Italy (400). More than half of the 1 100 Iraqis registered as unaccompanied minors, applied in the United Kingdom or Germany (both 300).