According to a report released by Switzerland’s border guards on Tuesday, the number of clandestine immigrants who tried to enter Switzerland in 2016 rose by 63% compared to the previous year. Over half were sent back.
Last year 48,838 people tried to enter Switzerland illegally, compared to 31,038 in 2015, the Swiss Border Guard announced on Tuesday. The southern canton of Ticino was most affected, with over two-thirds of illegal entries (33,844).
The numbers hit a peak over the summer with 7,412 in July and 7,482 in August, the Federal Customs Administration said in its annual report. Last summer saw large numbers of migrants entering Switzerland via the south, with many reportedly travelling on to northern Europe.
Most illegal immigrants were from Africa: Eritrea (12,294), Gambia (3,845), Guinea (3,814), Nigeria (3,150), Ethiopia (2,747) and Somalia (2,643).
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of people expelled from Switzerland quadrupled from 6,456 to 26,644. Last year, July and August saw the highest number of expulsions – 4,203 and 4,930 cases, respectively.
Three-quarters of expulsions – mostly concerning Africans – were via canton Ticino (19,988), with 14% via cantons Vaud, Valais and Fribourg.
Most immigrants entered Switzerland by train (40,758); 28 tried to get there by boat. The vast majority of people expelled were sent back via train (22,518), followed by road (4,024) and plane (82).
Around 85% of illegal immigrants who enter via canton Ticino are intercepted at Chiasso station. Even during months with numerous arrivals, those people crossing on foot through the mountains and forests represent only 6.4% of the total.