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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Over 8,000 Migrants ‘Disappeared’ Off Swiss Radar in 2016

Migrants in a Swiss Federal refugee center set-up in a tank hall on the army base in Thun, Switzerland   © Ruben Sprich / Reuters

Switzerland has witnessed a 40 percent increase in asylum seekers who dropped off the radar after arriving in the country. Over 8,000 migrants simply disappeared in 2016 after abandoning the asylum procedures without informing Swiss authorities.

Between January and the end of November 2016, a total of 8,166 asylum seekers chose to abandon their refugee applications, Martin Reichlin, a spokesman for the Migration Ministry (SEM) revealed.

At first glance this may appear to be a bad thing, but it seems likely that the vast majority who disappeared were not jihadists going underground as some might worry. Even jihadists need money to live on so unless they brought a bunch with them, and considering their countries of origin that is very unlikely, they are more liable to stay registered. 

This report does not make clear how many of these people disappeared before European borders tightened-up in mid-summer. Switzerland reported 14,000 people attempting to enter the country in 2016 before the borders with Italy and Germany tightened. I think it safe to say considerably fewer entered Switzerland since then. That means 8,000 asylum seekers who abandoned their application might well account for 40 to 50% of all migrants entering the country.

I'm unable to verify the numbers above. 14,000 for more than half of 2016 is a huge drop from the 163,000 taken in in 2015, or the 81,000 in 2014. 

USA Today - From May through Sept. 9, Switzerland accepted 72 refugees from Italy, with the government planning to take in a total of 600 from Italy by the end of the year, the migration agency said.

In all of 2015, Switzerland granted 6,377 asylum requests, mostly from refugees from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria, according to the agency. And in the first six months of this year, 3,252 were accepted, giving Switzerland one of the highest per capita rates in Europe for accepting refugees, according to the EU.

Those who dropped out of the bureaucratic process include people who believed that their application would be rejected or those who wished to join relatives in another European country. The SEM believes that these missing migrants continued their journey towards Germany.

According to the spokesman, those who chose to surrender their refugee prospects in Switzerland mainly came from Africa with the majority coming from Eritrea (801), Gambia (792), and Nigeria (716). They are followed by nationals of Guinea (508), Algeria (504) and Somalia (494).

The 2016 statistics show a massive increase in numbers of those who decided not to stay in Switzerland. In 2015 only 4,943 asylum seekers ‘went missing’.

Under European rules, refugees are only allowed to enter Switzerland if they say they want to claim asylum here. All those who do are assigned to a SEM reception center to be registered. Anyone who does not state their intention to claim asylum in Switzerland is refused entry and must return to the first European country they entered.