Asylum seeker requests in Switzerland hit 12-year low

The process for processing asylum applications has been speeded up in Switzerland. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The number of people seeking asylum in Switzerland dropped to a 12-year low of 14,269 in 2019. The Swiss migration office explained the 6.5% drop in numbers from 2018 by the decrease in asylum seekers from the Mediterranean zone and a migration treaty between Turkey and the European Union.

This content was published on January 31, 2020 - 14:04

Most asylum seekers (2,899) came from Eritrea, with Afghanistan (1,397), Turkey (1,287) and Syria (1,100) also featuring prominently among applicants.

In March of last year, Switzerland introduced new laws dealing with asylum seekers, speeding up the majority of requests from 400 days to 140 days. Most of the simpler asylum cases are now dealt with in new bigger federal reception centres that can take up to 5,000 people. Asylum seekers are also granted free legal aid.

Of the 19,140 cases processed last year (some cases dated back from applications in previous years), some 5,837 were conducted using the new procedures, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) reported on Friday.

In total, 5,551 people were accepted for asylum in 2019, while a similar proportion of people to 2018 left Switzerland voluntarily, were returned to their home country or a third nation. The number of cases pending fell by 3,000 to 8,377.

SEM expects around 15,000 asylum applications this year. Switzerland intends to accept 180 further victims of the Syrian conflict to meet its commitment to take in 2,800 refugees from this region.

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