BERN, SWITZERLAND – The number of requests for asylum in Switzerland fell by 16 percent in February, compared to January (and by 20 percent compared to February 2012), and the number of asylum seekers whose files were handed over to the country where they entered the Schengen area rose by 10 percent in February. The two figures indicate that Switzerland’s programme to more effectively identify false or multiple claims to refugee status is having some success.
Nigeria, Tunisia and Erithrea were the three largest groups of asylum seekers, out of the total of 1,794 persons registered. All three saw lower numbers than the previous month; the only group to see an increase was from Mali, with 48 persons compared to 32 in January.
Switzerland’s Office for Migration began checking asylum seekers’ fingerprints against a Schengen area data bank in early 2012, one of several measures to more clearly identify people, who often arrive with little or no documentation. The country where an asylum seeker enters the area must register the person and handle the file, but ease of travel within Europe has created what one migration officer in Basel describes as a “kind of underground of moving people”, a black market where asylum seekers pay someone who encourages them to make multiple applications.
In January 2013 Switzerland referrred 914 applications to other countries, where the person entered the region. Italy accounted for 514 of these.
Switzerland had 28,631 registered asylum seekers in 2012, a 27 percent increase over the previous year.