BERN, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland has seen a spike in the number of requests for political asylum from European countries, determined to be “safe”, where the government is considered to provide adequate protection against persecution even for minority groups, and whose citizens do not need visas. Bern said Tuesday 21 August that as a result of the high level of “unfounded” requests for asylum in recent months it is now expediting these requests and putting together teams to handle them in 48 hours, to free up services and spaces for asylum seekers who need them.
The countries that are home to the bulk of these requests are Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Macedonia and Serbia. From 1 January 2011 to 31 July 2012, close to 4,600 people from these countries sought asylum in Switzerland, but it was granted in only 20 cases, an extremely low level of acceptance, at 0.5 percent.
Those who are not granted asylum are obliged to leave the country immediately; Switzerland has been working with Serbia and Bosnia in particular to develop programmes to improve conditions for specific groups, on their return, says Bern. It points to housing for Roms in Serbia, financed by Switzerland.
Asylum seekers whose requests are considered to be unfounded will no longer qualify for financial aid to return to their country and they risk other problems such as being banned from Switzerland in the future if they do not leave within the short deadline they are given.