The airway which is the most economic and safe way to travel is completely locked due to high fines risked by the airlines whenever they take passengers without the right documents for their destination. Moreover, the airlines also have to give a passenger list 1 to more than 70 countries with details such as:
- Passport (or document) number, date of emission and authority
- Names, Surnames, nationality, gender and date of birth
- Address of residence
- Address at destination
- Seat number
- If a visa is required: N°, validity and authority
By sending these information, the airlines only board the passenger with valid documents to destination and if any passenger manages to get through, he can be stopped right at the arrival. For theses reasons the traffic of false documents is growing and becoming more sophisticated than ever and the airway becomes more expensive as the passengers try to have more stopovers to make it more difficult to be intercepted.
Consequently, the number of asylum-seeking persons at airports is falling.
– In 2013, 384 asylum applications were presented in all swiss airports and only 79 in Geneva Airport.
– In 2014, only 257 applications were presented in all swiss airports with an overall decrease of 30% compared to 2013.
– In 2015 only 42 applications have been presented since the beginning of the year, and only 7 in Geneva Airport.
Asylum applications are no longer possible at the Swiss representations due to a new law, and the Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga said this situation will certainly not change.²
The ALOs (Airline Liaison Officers) are public officers detached from the Border Guard and sent to the so said «sensitive» airports to help airlines in spotting false documents and preventing passengers without the required documents to board the aircrafts.³ They are not sent to the starting points but to the airports were refugees transit before arriving in Zurich or Geneva.
The ALOs could emit visas or laissez-passer to enter Switzerland when they find cases of asylum requests, without any legal modification necessity. They can also prevent any person who could likely be a threat during the flight or at destination through their access to SIS (Schengen Information System).
The passengers arriving at the airport are not driven back even if they lack the requested documents to enter the country: they can apply for asylum and their application is investigated while they are retained in the international zone of the airport. In most cases they can enter the country to continue the application procedure, because it is obvious that most of them are not economic migrants but refugees coming from Eritrea, Syria or Tamils from Sri-Lanka seeking protection of our country.
If we don’t count the non-considerations decisions, the SEM (Secretary of Migrations) gave a decision of protection in 75% 4 of the cases in 2014.
Regarding refugees from Eritrea and the Tamils, it is about 85% of the cases, and Syrians obtain a permission to remain mostly through a temporary admission which means they are considered to be refugees «from» violence and will have to leave Switzerland after the conflict in Syria ends.
Switzerland applies rigorously the procedures to recognize the cases where protection is needed but the country simply avoids that refugees come to seek our protection by preventing them to enter the country.
Even if the ALOs could deliver laissez-passers and visas it wouldn’t resolve the dramatic endings we have seen in the Mediterranean sea. But at least the refugees will be able to take an aircraft and won’t have to pay a migrant smuggler who often are unscrupulous and ready to abandon them in the middle of the sea.
There are very few ALOs used by the Swiss Confederation. We learned in Forum D, the swiss customs’ newspaper, that there are only three allocation sites.5 It could perfectly be possible to have more of them or to give this role to specialists from the Secretary of Migrations or even to ONGs for example.
In the same newspaper we also learn that a Norwegian ALO discovered Somalians in possession of passports not belonging to them. This shows how the ALO system is implemented in Europe: there are ALOs in 26 Schengen States Members. If they could establish visas or laissez-passer for humanitarian reasons or international obligations, it would at least partially weaken and diminish the migrants smuggler’s traffic in the Mediterranean sea! This solution would certainly be much more effective than the military operations EUNAVFOR MED considered by the UE!
(Screenshot 1. from IATA)