The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) intends to reduce operating costs by around CHF30 million ($30.3 million) by temporarily closing accommodation in federal asylum centres. In addition, measures to improve the enforcement of deportations are being examined.
The two federal asylum centres in Kappelen, canton Bern, and Muttenz, canton Basel Country, will be closed until further notice, the SEM announced on Mondayexternal link. The savings of around CHF30 million a year would correspond to around 30% of the annual costs for maintenance and security, it said.
The SEM pointed out that in 2014 the government and cantons agreed to operate 5,000 accommodation places in federal asylum centres in order to implement the accelerated procedures. This would enable up to 29,000 asylum applications a year to be processed in the six asylum regions.
More than 4,000 accommodation places are currently available, but only half are occupied. However, the number of applications has declined continuously in recent years. By the end of this year, the SEM still expects around 14,500 asylum applications. This would be the lowest figure since 2007.
The goal, it said, was to utilise around 80% of the capacity of the asylum centres that continue to operate. With the newly available 2,200 places, around 16,000 new asylum applications could be processed each year. Should the number of applications increase again, the temporarily cancelled places could be reactivated within four to 12 weeks.
The SEM also wants to improve the implementation of the deportation system. It said the number of pending repatriations of rejected asylum-seekers had steadily decreased in recent years because cooperation with many countries of origin had improved.
“With some states, however, it still does not function as desired, and in some cases, there is no willingness to cooperate at all,” it noted.
The SEM said that in the area of return and reintegration assistance, instruments should be further strengthened so that as many asylum-seekers as possible who are not entitled to protection in Switzerland decide to return to their country of origin voluntarily.