In the first half of 2019, Switzerland received 10% fewer asylum applications than the same period last year, continuing a downward trend that started in 2018.
According to the latest statisticsexternal link published by the Secretary for Migration (SEM) on Thursday, some 7,029 applications were received in the first six months of the year. This is despite the uncertainty of the situation in conflict regions and migratory routes, stated SEM in a summary of the report.
The decline in asylum applications was even steeper in the second quarter with 11.2% fewer applications. In June alone, the decline was nearly 20%. Last year, Switzerland received 15,255 applications - the lowest level in 11 years and 15% less than 2017.
In the second quarter of the year, asylum was granted to 1,396 people. In the same period, 1,634 left Switzerland or were repatriated.
The most common countries of origin for asylum seekers in the first half of 2019 were Eritrea (1,474 applications), Afghanistan (597), Syria (511), Turkey (495), Georgia (386) and Sri Lanka (377).
In 2018, Switzerland committed to take in another 800 particularly vulnerable people beyond the 2,000 agreed in 2016. Under this resettlement programme, 142 people entered the country in the first half of the year.
The report notes that there are fewer people crossing the Mediterranean but there has been a rise in the number of people from countries like Georgia who are exempt from visa requirements and therefore enter the Schengen area legally and then apply for asylum.
At the end of June 2019, almost 60,000 recognized refugees were living in Switzerland, 10% more than a year ago. Including those with B and C permits, there are around 125,000 people living in Switzerland who have been granted asylum.