The Justice Ministry said Friday that applications for refugee status plunged 35 percent in the first half of 2018, compared with the same period last year, after a stricter screening system was introduced in January to eliminate applicants believed to be job-seekers.

In the January-June period 5,586 people applied for refugee status, down 2,975 from the same period last year.

The new screening system also seems to be helping to identify those who are genuinely in need of protection, and discouraging those who don't from applying. The number of people who withdrew their applications stood at 1,451 in the first half, compared with 1,612 through the whole of last year.