Although Swiss embassies abroad can no longer grant asylum requests, they can award humanitarian visas. But only 48 visas were awarded between September 2012 and mid-June 2014, the cabinet said on Thursday in response to a parliamentary interpellation.
The possibility of applying for asylum at a Swiss embassy in a foreign country was discontinued on September 29, 2012. Between January 1, 2009, and September 29, 2012, almost 20,000 asylum requests were granted to persons whose lives or physical integrity were deemed to be seriously threatened.
At the time the option of applying for asylum abroad was discontinued, 16,425 applications were pending. Of those, 4,952 were for women and 4,719 were for children.
Between September 2012 and September 2013, 162 requests were made for humanitarian visas, primarily from Sri Lanka (58), Turkey (37) and Egypt (20).
The government provided the information in response to a formal request for information from parliamentarian Barbara Schmid-Federer, a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic party representing canton Zurich.