Swiss asylum costs rise by 60% per person

In 2017, Switzerland was ready for far more asylum seekers than it actually received. @ KEYSTONE / ALEXANDRA WEY

Switzerland’s asylum centres were only half full last year, but the cost per asylum seeker was 60% over the budget.

This content was published on March 11, 2018 - 13:37

As the SonntagsZeitungExternal link newspaper reported on Sunday, nearly half of the 3,700 federally managed beds for asylum seekers were empty last year.

The newspaper got the data from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), which said that only two of the 20 or so federal asylum centres had been more than 75% occupied in 2017. The high vacancy rate led to higher expenses per person.

+ 2017 saw a huge drop in the number of asylum applications

The official budget per asylum seeker per day is CHF83 ($87), and it covers food, security and care. In 2017, the average cost was CHF132. At one centre in a village in the Bernese Oberland, it was CHF350 because there were so few asylum seekers living there.

The newspaper, accusing the government of poor budgeting, suggested that CHF30 million could have been saved.

In reply, SEM pointed out that Switzerland had to be prepared to cope with fluctuations in capacity, including a possible surge of asylum seekers. It pointed out that some asylum centres had been closed in response to the declining demand last year, thus eliminating 900 beds.

Compensation for rejected asylum seeker 

Also on Sunday, the SonntagsZeitung reported that the federal government had compensated a rejected Tamil asylum seeker for pain and suffering. Via a lawyer, the man filed suit, saying he been arrested and tortured after his expulsion from Switzerland.

The lawyer reportedly settled the case with the Federal Court, winning tens of thousands of Swiss francs for his client. It was the first time that a rejected asylum seeker had won such a settlement. 

Switzerland has been rejecting Tamil applicants in recent years, despite the United Nation’s belief that torture is still going on in Sri Lanka.

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