The outgoing head of Switzerland’s migration secretariat says the country should see around 15,000 applications for asylum next year, up from 14,500 lodged in 2021, as more migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy.This content was published on December 30, 2021 – 10:43December 30, 2021 – 10:43Keystone-SDA/swissinfo.ch/gwOther language: 1 (EN original)
Mario Gattiker, who leaves his post at the State Secretariat for Migration at the end of the month, says there is also a higher probability that Switzerland could see up to 25,000 asylum requests in 2022. Migration has slowed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, he toldExternal link the tabloid Blick, but if the health crisis eases by spring, more people will be on the move.
Political instability in parts of the world where a bad economic situation has been made worse by the pandemic could also contribute to an increase in migration numbers. This year alone three coups d’état have taken place in West Africa – in Mali, Chad and Guinea – he pointed out.
However, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has criticised Switzerland for its “restrictive” asylum rules, especially when it comes to people fleeing civil war. The country has also come under pressure for not pledging to resettle more Afghan refugees since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last August. The outgoing state secretary said Switzerland had evacuated nearly 400 people from Afghanistan last summer. The priority is to resettle refugees from the Syrian conflict, to help relieve pressure on neighbouring host countries Lebanon and Turkey.
Gattiker added that the Federal Council could still review its policy if, for example, there were internationally coordinated resettlement programmes for Afghans who have fled to neighbouring countries.
Switzerland has seen an uptick in the number of Afghans entering Switzerland but they often move on to apply for asylum in France or Great Britain, he said.