Immigration : Most asylum-seekers unaccounted for after leaving Swiss centre


Clothes hang in the barbed wire fence of a reception and procedure centre for asylum seekers.
A total of 18,088 migrants filed for asylum in Switzerland in 2017, a decline of 33.5%. It is the lowest number of applications since 2010.


The majority of asylum-seekers who left a federal departure centre near Zurich have vanished without a trace, the Swiss government concluded after testing accelerated asylum measures over 15 months.

A total of 649 asylum-seekers were admitted to the Embrach departure centre between the time of its opening in March 2017 and early June 2018.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said on Wednesday that 309 out of the 503 asylum-seekers who left the centre did so in an uncontrolled manner. In other words, the authorities have no knowledge where they went after the centre.

That figure corresponds to around 61% of all departures. The federal departure centre in Embrach was part of a pilot project in which the federal authorities, along with the procedural centre in Zurich, tested the new Asylum Act.

The changes to asylum legislation will come into force at the beginning of 2019. They are the outcome of a 2016 vote, in which the government gained public backing to reform and speed up asylum procedures in Switzerland.

The departure centre is the final stop for asylum-seekers who have not been allowed to stay in Switzerland. Asylum-seekers are sent there to wait for repatriation to their home country, transfer to a third country, or a Dublin member state.

Switzerland implements the Dublin convention which stipulates that the country of initial entry is responsible for the asylum process.

+ Switzerland called on to improve treatment of asylum seekers

Nationwide, there were a total of 2,378 of uncontrolled departures between January and May 2018, according to the SEM’s asylum statistics. This corresponds to 36% of all departures.

Some 2,801 departures were listed as ‘controlled’, which included independent departures from Switzerland, repatriations, and transfers to other nations.

SEM classed a further 1,472 cases as “other departures”.

By introducing these departure centres, the Swiss government hoped to ensure that rejected asylum-seekers are returned directly to their countries of origin.

The government plans to establish a total of 18 federal asylum centres nationwide.

The location of some 13 of them has already been established, three are still controversial and a further two are currently under review, the SEM told the Swiss News Agency.


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