Requests for asylum in Switzerland fell sharply last year, dropping to less than half the number of applications in 1999.
The Federal Office for Refugees said on Tuesday it had received 17,611 requests in 2000, a 62 per cent drop on the previous year. One in five asylum seekers came from Yugoslavia, one in eight from Turkey.
The office said it had dealt with more than 38,000 requests, clearing nearly 20,000 from the backlog of cases. But it still had over 15,000 applications to consider at the end of the year.
Asylum was granted in only 2,061 cases, just over six per cent of all requests handled by the authorities. Yugoslav refugees stood little chance of being permitted to stay, while every second Turkish asylum-seeker was allowed to remain in Switzerland.
More than 98,000 people either had or were seeking asylum in Switzerland at the end of the year, 26 per cent less than in 1999. The head of the Federal Office for Refugees, Jean-Daniel Gerber, said most of the drop is due to the repatriation of refugees to Kosovo.
Since the end of Nato's conflict with Yugoslavia over Kosovo in 1999, more than 32,000 Kosovar refugees have headed home with the help of Swiss aid programmes.
Switzerland is the country that saw the biggest drop in the number of asylum requests received in 2000.
swissinfo with agencies