BERN, SWITZERLAND – The number of asylum seekers in Switzerland rose 4.9 percent in October, representing 100 more individuals (total, 31 October: 2,142) than in September, new figures from the Federal Migration Office shows. The office says that at the end of September the figures for the second quarter of the year were stable, with a 1.2 percent increase.
Zurich, Bern and Vaud have the largest number of active asylum applications under consideration.
Eritreans and Tunisians remain the two largest groups seeking asylum, with Nigerians third.
Switzerland sent 351 applicants to Italy in October, under the terms of the Dublin Regulation, which is designed to prevent asylum-seekers from applying to several European Union states or to move continually from one to another.
Switzerland is covered by the Regulation. A number of asylum seekers have made their way to Switzerland via Italy, notably once the Libyan-Lampedusa route was re-opened last spring. Italy has seen a flood of asylum seekers, some 55,000 to date. But under the terms of the Dublin Regulation the country in which a person first arrives in the EU is the one responsible for handling the application. The system has come in for criticism, particularly in recent months where Italy and southern France have been faced with larger numbers than their EU partners.
Switzerland and Europe in general remain far behind the US in absolute but not relative numbers, the US being the most popular destination for asylum seekers, according to 2010 annual statistics from the UNHCR in Geneva, published in March 2011. Switzerland was eighth, with some 13,000 applications last year. compared to 55,000 for the US and about 47,000 for France.