Covid-19 pandemic leads to 23% drop in asylum requests

The increase in the number of asylum requests from Eritreans is due to family reunions and new births. Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella

The number of asylum requests in Switzerland fell by almost a quarter (23%) to 11,041 people last year, annual statistics reported on Monday have revealed.

This content was published on February 1, 2021 - 12:34

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said the decline was due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting travel restrictions.

Most of the asylum requests recorded last year were from Eritrean citizens (1,917), followed by people from Afghanistan, Algeria and Syria, according to a statementExternal link released on Monday.

The list of the countries of origin is similar to Swiss statistics from previous years.

The increase in the number of Eritrean nationals is largely the result of births and family reunions, the SEM said.

In 2020, the Swiss asylum authorities processed more than 17,220 requests (some cases referred to applications filed in previous years). This reduced the overall backlog to 3,852 cases – the lowest level since 1994, the SEM said.

In total, 5,409 people – or a third of all requests - were granted asylum status in Switzerland in 2020.

The number of rejected asylum seekers who left Switzerland voluntarily dropped to 1,051 last year, down by more than 600 compared with the previous year.

Another 745 people were deported, mainly to one of the other 31 member states which signed the Dublin agreement or to their country of origin.

For 2021, the SEM expects around 15,000 asylum applications.

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?