Somalians, Eritreans top rising Swiss asylum claims
Applications for asylum in Switzerland jumped 53.1 percent in 2008 as more people from the African nations of Eritrea and Somalia sought refuge here, the Federal Office for Migration said Tuesday.
GENEVA -"In 2008, 16,606 asylum claims were made in Switzerland, 5,762 more than in 2007," the office said in a report.
The report indicated that Eritreans made up the largest group of asylum seekers, with 2,849 applications made in the year, up 17.2 percent from 2007.
Somalians were the second largest group, with 2,014 claims, an increase of 12.1 percent year-on-year.
"This increase is mainly due to a modification in migration routes taken by sub-Saharan African migrants," the report said.
"The number of people who crossed the Mediterranean through Libya in the direction of the Italian island of Lampedusa and Sicily doubled in 2008 to reach almost 33,000 people," it said.
Eritreans, Somalians and Nigerians made up the bulk of these migrants.
Notably, the number of asylum applications from Nigerians tripled during the year reaching 988 from 327 in 2007, according to the latest statistics.
"Neither Italian authorities nor European agencies... could prevent the influx of migrants via Lampedusa. If some of these migrants stay in Italy, a few of them could continue on their migration journey, notably up to Switzerland," the report said.