Asylum requests drop by more than a third in first half of this year
The number of people applying for asylum in Switzerland dropped by more than a third in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year, according to figures released by the State Secretariat for Migration.
9,123 applications were lodged from the beginning of January this year to the end of June, the lowest figure for the first half of a year since 2010. In the first six months of 2016, 14,277 requests for asylum were received. The fall in applications this year is attributed to the closure of the Balkan land route used by thousands to flee conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
However, since April, asylum applications have risen. This rise is believed to be due to the seasonal increase in migration from the central Mediterranean to southern Italy and then on to central and northern Europe. The second half of the year typically sees a rise in the number of applications.
The State Secretariat for Migration says that the number of asylum seekers seeking refuge in Switzerland could increase in the near future as a significant potential for migration remains at the borders of Europe, the Middle East and Libya. The secretariat has not ruled out as many as 30,000 asylum applications this year.