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.

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.

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