Switzerland received 27,207 requests for asylum in 2016, 31% fewer than the year before. In 2017, The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) expects around 24,500.
The decline is related to the partial closure of the migration route through the Balkans, said SEM, particularly towards the end of the year. The number in December 2016 was 64% lower than in December 2015.
Last year the largest numbers came from Eritrea (5,178), Afghanistan (3,229), Syria (2,144), Somalia (1,581), Sri Lanka (1,373) and Iraq (1,312).
The number of requests from west Africa grew. Nigeria (1,106), The Gambia (1,054), Guinea (900) and the Ivory Coast (374) were all higher. The numbers from Algeria (+ 71%) and Morocco (+96%) also rose.
Across the EU, around 1.3 million asylum demands were made in 2016. Compared to the EU, numbers in Switzerland were down.
With a rate of 3.4 requests per 1,000 residents, Switzerland was still above the EU average of 2.5. Germany (9.8), Greece (5.1), Austria (5.0), Malta (4.5) and Luxembourg (3.6) were all higher than Switzerland.
Forecast for 2017
“According to the most likely scenario, the SEM expects 24,500 asylum requests in 2017” it said, however the real number could rise as high as 32,000. The number depends on the flow of migrants and the fate of the agreement with Turkey.