The number of new asylum seekers registered in Switzerland last year was 23,765, an increase of 11% on the 2013 figure. The largest nationality group by far were Eritreans, whose numbers more than doubled (+170%) to 6,923.
The Swiss increase was modest in comparison to the overall figures for Europe, where the number of registered asylum seekers in 2014 reached 600,000, an increase of 35% on 2013.
The dramatic increase is a reflection of the historically high number of displaced persons globally, according to a statement on Thursday by the State Secretariat for Migration.
Earlier this month the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported that war in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere had uprooted an estimated 5.5 million people during the first six months of 2014 alone.
The number of Syrians who made it to Switzerland to request asylum doubled last year to 3,819 people. The most common route to the European mainland for Syrian and Eritrean refugees is by sea to Italy.
Syria’s civil war has now entered its fifth year and has forced 15.5 million people to rely on emergency aid. Neighbouring countries are already hosting 3.3 million refugees, 40% of whom are under 12 years old.
The Swiss government has tasked the foreign ministry and the justice ministry with working out proposals on how best to reinforce Swiss support for victims of the Syrian conflict on a long term basis.
The state secretariat reported that 6,199 people were granted asylum in Switzerland last year, out of 26,715 completed application procedures. That corresponds to a refugee recognition rate of 26% , twice as high as in 2013.
swissinfo.ch and agencies