The number of asylum requests made in the Netherlands last year totalled 31,327, down 300 on 2016 and almost half the 2015 figure, the national immigration service IND said on Wednesday.

infographic reception of asylum seekers in the nl

The biggest group, accounting for 35% of claims, came from Syria, while 13% came from Eritrea.

Of the total asylum requests, 14,700 were made by new arrivals and nearly 14,500 came from family members applying to  join relatives already in the Netherlands.

The IND also flagged up a sharp rise in the number of applications from Cuba, which hit 121 in December alone, bringing the annual total to 256. In 2016, there were just 23 applications and the service said it had no explanation for the sudden rise.

The deal with Turkey to house refugees in the region continues to have an impact on the total number of applications, the organisation said while efforts to stamp out economic migration from Morocco, Algeria and Albania were also having a clear effect.

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