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Minister moots closer asylum cooperation

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga says closer cooperation with other countries is needed to deal with global migration.

“Cooperation must not be limited to calls aimed at preventing migrants from entering Switzerland,” she told the Tribune de Genève and 24 Heures newspapers.

“Migration is directly linked to development aid,” she said. “We must not forget the humanitarian aspect.”

Over the past few weeks Sommaruga has been criticised by the cantonal authorities for the allegedly slow and inefficient asylum procedure. The 26 cantons want rejected asylum seekers be returned to their home countries before they are transferred to temporary regional centres.

Switzerland has sent back about 1,350 people under a European asylum agreement since the beginning of this year, according to Sommaruga. She also stressed that Switzerland had repatriation accords with most countries in the world.

However, she acknowledged shortcomings in the asylum procedure and pledged to increase efforts to speed up the return of illegal immigrants but also called on cantons to cooperate with the federal authorities.

More than 8,000 asylum requests have been filed in Switzerland since January 2011, most of them Eritrea and Tunisia.

Overall there are about 38,000 applicants in Switzerland – three times fewer than in the late 1990 following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. and agencies

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