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Asylum requests in Switzerland hit seven-year low

Requests for asylum in Switzerland dropped by a third in September, bringing the total for the first nine months of 2017 to just under 14,000, the lowest since 2010, government data showed.

A drop since mid-July in the number of would-be refugees trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean played a role, the State Secretariat for Migration has said, adding that Switzerland was also not a primary destination for these people.

Citizens of Eritrea remained the biggest group of asylum seekers in September, followed by people arriving from Syria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but takes in some asylum seekers who have reached frontline states Greece and Italy to help relieve their burden. It has accepted around 1,300 such people since the programme began in September 2015.

In 2016, Switzerland received 27,207 asylum applications, 12,316 fewer than in the previous year. Eritrea was the top country of origin of asylum seekers in 2016 with 5,178 nationals of the African country submitting an asylum application that year.

The other main countries of origin of asylum seekers in 2016 were Afghanistan (3,229 applications), Syria (2,144 applications), Somalia (1,581 applications), Sri Lanka (1,373 applications) and Iraq (1,312 applications).

Under Swiss law, any migrant who wishes to seek asylum in Switzerland must present themselves at the border and request asylum. They will then be registered with the relevant authorities and taken into the Swiss asylum system.

Austin Ohaegbu with Reuters

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