Sri Lankans were among the highest number of asylum seekers in Switzerland last year.The Reuters news agency reported that requests for asylum in Switzerland plunged by nearly a third to around 27,200 last year after authorities closed the Balkan land route used by thousands to flee hot spots in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Neutral and landlocked Switzerland got just a fraction of the roughly 1.3 million requests for asylum across Europe last year as countries continued to process the wave of people that arrived in 2015, SEM said in a statement.People from Eritrea made the most Swiss asylum requests last year, followed by citizens of Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Iraq. In December alone, requests for asylum fell 64 percent from a year earlier, bringing the full-year drop to 31 percent after the Balkan route was interrupted in March and Swiss authorities took a tough line on the border with Italy last summer. The SEM migration agency forecast around 24,500 people would seek asylum this year but cautioned this could rise to 32,000 depending on the flow of refugees via the Mediterranean and whether a deal Europe struck with Turkey to hold back migrants held up. Of the nearly 31,300 requests processed last year, almost 23 percent were granted asylum, SEM said. The ratio of people receiving protection was nearly 49 percent including those given provisional permission to stay in Switzerland temporarily.Switzerland took in 621 people last year under a U.N. refugee agency resettlement program launched in 2015, and 368 people under a European relocation scheme for refugees who had registered in Greece or Italy. (Colombo Gazette)
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. I saw very clearly what she meant with the gun gestureJeremy Vine Jeremy Vine has been forced to deny an allegation he racially stereotyped a driver who threatened him while he was cycling after he claimed she made a gun sign with her hand. Shanique Syrena Pearson, 22, is said to have formed a weapon with her fingers and cocked it at Mr Vine’s head as he pulled alongside her at a set of traffic lights, which he interpreted as a “serious threat”, Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court was told.Pearson denies making the threat, claiming instead to have put her middle finger up at the BBC presenter, who she thought was “a bit crazy” for following her after their initial row.The alleged action followed a charged altercation between the pair, which was captured by keen cyclist Mr Vine on a helmet camera. The clip of the row in Kensington, west London, on August 26 was posted online by Mr Vine and has since been viewed millions of times. The presenter was cycling in the middle of the narrow road which had parked cars on either side, but stopped after being hooted at by the driver of a black Vauxhall Corsa behind.In the clip played to the court, a high-pitched voice belonging to the female driver screams “Why would you do that?” while she gesticulates out of the car window.A male voice can then be heard explaining that he needs a car’s width between him and the parked cars to cycle safely on the narrow street.Continuing, she says: “What the f—, why the f— did you stop in front of my f—— car. “Do you not respect your f—— life? Move your bike, move your bike,” before allegedly kicking and pushing Mr Vine and the cycle between them.When she overtakes Mr Vine he is heard to say “oh my god, so scary”, as she appears to pass close to a parked car.A little while later, Pearson gets out of the Corsa a second time after noticing Mr Vine attempting to take a photo, and tells the presenter: “Take a picture of me again and I will knock you out.” As she advances towards Mr Vine he says: “Don’t assault me, you’ve already assaulted me.” Shanique Syrena Pearson arrives at Hammersmith Magistrates Court in LondonCredit:PA Mr Vine told the court of the next few moments: “She’s gone back in the car, she’s sitting at this junction. I am behind her with my cycle, the lights are red. I draw parallel to the car because I want to see inside. As I draw level and I look in she produces her fingers like this, and aims them at me, and cocks her thumb and goes like that, in a firing sign.”James O’Keeffe, defending, suggested Mr Vine had not abided by the Highway Code, by “stopping abruptly in front of a moving car”.He also claimed Mr Vine was racially stereotyping the defendant by claiming she had formed a gun with her hand. Mr O’Keeffe said: “I suggest to you that you have racially stereotyped her as a black person, and that gesture is associated with black people.”But Mr Vine insisted he had just “told the truth”. “I saw very clearly what she meant with the gun gesture,” he added.Dressed in a dark blue suit, the presenter, who came straight from his Radio 2 show to the court to give evidence, said his sole aim had been to calm the defendant down and he believed he was “dealing with a violent person”.He said: “I was actually quite scared about what was going to happen. I had to hold on to it (the bike) so my hands were down, so I had no real way of defending myself or even move away.” I suggest to you that you have racially stereotyped her as a black person, and that gesture is associated with black peopleJames O’Keeffe, defending But Mr O’Keeffe said there was a credibility issue with Mr Vine’s evidence because he claimed to have been afraid but had acted in a way that was “utterly inconsistent” with fear.Wearing a black top under a pale pink coat, Pearson, a former assistant manager at a bookies, sat in the dock as the footage was repeatedly played.Giving evidence, she said she initially hooted to show Mr Vine she expected him to move over when the road widened, and performed an emergency stop when he then halted, adding: “It was too quick, it kind of shocked me.”She then tried to push his bike out of the way, but Mr Vine held his ground, she said.She told the court: “I know what I said was wrong and I am open to apology, but I think we both did wrong.” Continuing, she said: “I could have hit him (with the car) and I don’t think he understood the danger of that, hence why I was so angry.”Pearson of Vauxhall, south-west London, is charged with driving without reasonable consideration for other road users, and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. She has admitted to driving an unlicensed vehicle on the day in question.The hearing was adjourned to January 26 when District Judge Timothy King will deliver a verdict at City of London Magistrates.