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Asylum seeker requests soar in Switzerland

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Photo: Federal Office for MIgration
10:41 CET+01:00
The number of requests for asylum by refugees in Switzerland rose in 2014 by 11 percent to 23,765 from the previous year, the highest rate in more than a decade, according to government figures.

The increase was the result of numerous crisis and conflict zones around the Mediterranean and in Africa, the state secretariat for migration (SFM) said in a release issued on Thursday.

As a result the number of asylum seekers grew across Europe, with the requests made in Switzerland accounting for four percent of the total, the secretariat (formerly known as the federal office of migration) said.

Europe-wide the total increase by 35 percent to around 600,000 from 444,000 in 2013, the SFM said.

The number of arrivals of refugees in southern Europe was particularly high last year, with 170,000 people landing in southern Italy alone, the secretariat said.

This influx has had repercussions across the continent, including Switzerland, which has not seen as many asylum seekers since the 1990s, it said.

People from the North African country of Eritrea made the largest number of asylum requests — 6,923, up 170 percent from the previous year.

The demand from Eritreans peaked at around 1,000 a month during the summer before tailing off later in the year with the overall increase directly linked to the wave of refugees coming ashore in southern Italy, the SFM said.

 Refugees from Syria (3,819, up 101 percent) accounted for the next largest group, as people fled a civil war in that country.

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Those from Sri Lanka (1,277, up 87 percent) made up the third largest group.

Las year Swiss authorities treated 26,715 requests for asylum in the first instance, up 12 percent from 2013, while granting asylum to 6,199 refugees (up 96 percent).

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