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Switzerland leads Europe as haven for asylum seekers

Switzerland last year accepted more asylum seekers than any other country in Europe, relative to the size of its population. A survey by the UN Refugee Agency shows that in actual numbers, only Germany and Britain took in more people in 1999.

This content was published on January 21, 2000 - 00:13

Switzerland last year accepted more asylum seekers than any other country in Europe, relative to the size of its population. A survey by the United Nations refugee agency shows that in actual numbers, only Germany and Britain took in more people in 1999.

According to a survey published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Switzerland accepted more than 46,000 asylum seekers, 12 per cent more than in the previous year. This puts Switzerland in third place in Europe, behind Germany with over 95,000 people and Britain with 89,7000 people.

However, Switzerland took in most relative to its size, and now counts more than six asylum seekers per 1,000 residents population. That's more than twice as high as the proportion in Belgium, and three times higher than in Austria or the Netherlands.

For Switzerland, the 46,000 asylum seekers meant a new record. Announcing detailed figures last week, the authorities said most applications for asylum in Switzerland were filed by people from the former Yugoslavia, due to the conflict in Kosovo.

More than half of the 29,000 Kosovo Albanians who arrived in Switzerland last year have already returned home unde a government-funded programme. The programme of voluntary repatriations is due to run out in May. The government said eyerbody else whose asylum request was turned down will face forcible repatriation to Kosovo.

From staff and wire reports

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