By Emily Allen
PUBLISHED: 13:55 EST, 26 March 2012 | UPDATED: 13:55 EST, 26 March 2012
Asylum seekers from Arab Spring countries and West African nations suffering civil strife surged into Europe last year new figures have revealed.
The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said almost two million people have left their homes over the last year as a result of the impact of the Arab Spring across North Africa and the Middle East.
Europe’s largest group of migrants for a third consecutive year was from Afghanistan.
To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria as well as Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Oman.
Euro-stat, the European Union’s statistics agency, said asylum applications from Tunisians rose nearly 12-fold from 540 in 2010 to 6,330 in 2011.
Thousands of migrants flooded into Lampedusa, a tiny island south of Sicily after the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who fled to Saudi Arabia in January last year.
This loosened tight frontier checks that blocked the way into Europe.
In February last year Egyptian, President Hosni Mubarak resigned the following month after 18 days of protests which centred on Tahir Square in Cairo.
Asylum applications from Libya rose more than four times from 710 to 2,885 between 2010 and 2011 as the country descended into civil war.
In Libya Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in August and was killed two months later.
Those who fled Syria and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, increased by over 50 per cent, even though fighting there only accelerated at the end of the year.
Asylum applications from Nigeria, the scene of furious fuel price protests and a violent Islamic insurgency, almost doubled from 6,750 in 2010 to 11,470 in 2011.
Arrivals from Ivory Coast, which suffered a civil war after disputed elections, surged to 5,320 from 1,495 in 2010.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, fighting for re-election, vowed to pull France out of the open border Schengen zone unless there was progress in fortifying Europe’s frontiers.
Austria and Germany have threatened to reinstate border controls in the Schengen zone if countries such as Greece do not stem an increasing tide of migrants making their way across the Aegean Sea from Turkey.
In September last year, the European Commission proposed legislation to let governments temporarily reinstate border controls if they can show a neighbouring country has repeatedly failed to tackle illegal immigration.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120690/The-Arab-Exodus-Two-million-people-fled-Europe-Spring-rebellions.html#ixzz1pBvZZjDe