The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has announced that requests for asylum in Switzerland will likely increase in 2016.
In a letter to cantonal officials last week, SEM Director Mario Gattiker explained that around 30,000 applications for asylum in Switzerland are expected in 2016. This is compared to 29,000 requests in 2015 - a figure that, according to the NZZ am Sonntag, itself represents a 20% increase over 2014's 23,765 applicants.
Consistent with this prediction, the SEM has spent the summer working with the federal defence ministry and the Swiss Red Cross to acquire tents and other accommodations for asylum seekers.
As more and more applications come in, around 900 people from federal asylum centres are being distributed among the cantons each week, compared to about 700 per week in June. This has cantonal governments arguing that the federal government should be doing more to house asylum seekers themselves.
"The federal government needs to urgently increase their own accommodation capacities," Lucerne cantonal social affairs minister Guido Graf told the NZZ am Sonntag.
The German-language newspaper noted that despite the increases over request numbers in 2014 and 2015, the figure of 30,000 still remains well below the 40,000-48,000 requests made for asylum in Switzerland in 1998 and 1999, respectively, during the Balkan crisis.
According to Swiss public radio RTS, in terms of the number of asylum applications per 100,000 inhabitants, Switzerland places fourth in Europe behind Sweden (835), Hungary (435) and Austria (341).
swissinfo.ch and agencies