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Asylum-seekers fall to five year low

After hitting an all-time record last year, the number of people seeking asylum has fallen to its lowest level in five years. The federal refugee office said it had received 1,127 requests for asylum in April, the lowest monthly figure since April 1995.

For the first four months of the current year, the refugee office said on Tuesday it had registered 5,433 asylum applications, down from 15,250 for the same period last year.

Most asylum-seekers are still from Yugoslavia (318 in April), followed by people from Turkey (98), Sri Lanka (78) and Iraq (74).

The refugee office said that for the sixth month in a row, there had been more departures of asylum-seekers from Switzerland than arrivals. It said there were 4,200 departures in April.

Of these, 757 returned to Kosovo under a government-sponsored voluntary repatriation programme. That brings the total number of Kosovars to have benefitted from the scheme to 20,444 since July 1 last year.

The drop in the number of asylum-seekers is a European trend. Last Friday, the Geneva-based United Nations refugee agency said that the number of asylum applications in European countries had fallen by eight per cent in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

swissinfo with agencies


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