Asylum requests at lowest level for seven years

Asylum requests at lowest level for seven years
Eritreans form the largest group requesting asylum. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
The number of people seeking asylum in Switzerland is falling, according to official statistics.

The number of requests lodged in the first six months of the year – 9,123 – was lower than at any time since 2010, the Swiss migration office (SEM) reported on Wednesday.

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In the second quarter of the year requests were down by more than a quarter over the same period last year.

And in the month of June the number of applications was down by almost a third on the previous year.

The situation in Switzerland contrasts sharply with that in Italy, which has seen a big jump in migrant numbers.

The highest number of requests made in Switzerland came from Eritreans, followed by Syrians, Afghans, Somalians and Sri Lankans.

The SEM said Switzerland was not the primary destination of most of those seeking to migrate to western Europe.

The migration office said it expected applications to rise in the second half of the year.

However, in light of the drop in the first six months it has revised its total for the year downwards.

Given the uncertainty over the situation in conflict zones, the government is continuing to plan for 24,500 asylum applications this year, although the real figure could be below 20,000.

The downwards trend has been noticeable for some time.

Last December the SEM issued figures showing that more than 25,000 people had lodged requests for asylum in 2016. In 2015 the figure was close to 35,000.