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There is one issue that has preoccupied Europe since the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011: immigration. More than six million Syrians are internally displaced and five million have fled to neighbouring countries, mainly Turkey but also Lebanon and Jordan. As of November, there are now 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, to which can be added some 300,000 – 400,000 who are unregisteredand more than 400,000 non-Syrian refugees, mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan and. Iran. In fact, Turkey is hosting the world’s largest refugee population.

As conditions in Syria deteriorated, there was a sharp rise in the number of refugees fleeing to Turkey, so that there were two and half million by 2015, and with Russia’s intervention the number increased to over three and a half million. Correspondingly, there was a marked increase in the number of asylum seekers in Europe, which spiked in 2015 with a record 1.3 million. Half of these came from Syria, Afghanistan. and Iraq with Germany as the primary destination.

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