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Policy change? Drop in asylum requests prompts review of facilities

Room in asylum centre with empty beds and a visitor

Some asylum centres run by cantonal authorities, have closed due to a lack of applications. 

(© Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)

The justice ministry has ordered a review of the number of Swiss asylum centres amid an important drop in the number of requests for asylum over the past four years.

The State Secretariat for Migrationexternal link (SEM) confirmed that the assessment is underway and a decision, including whether to close some of the 19 centres currently in operation, is expected by September.

As part of the review, experts are considering ways of speeding up the administration of asylum procedures and the deportation of rejected applicants, a SEM spokesman told the Swiss news agency, Keystone-SDA.

The cantonal authorities, which share responsibility of asylum matters with the national government, will be consulted for the review, he added.

Reports say only one in two of the 4,000 places available in asylum centres are in use, while government plans foresee the creation of another 5,000 places under current legislation that came into force at the beginning of the year.

Several cantons have already closed shelters due to a lack of asylum applicants.

The review comes as the number of asylum requests dropped by more than 60%, to about 15,000 over the past four years.

Latest figures show that just over 6,000 requests were handed in in the first five months of 2019.

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