African immigrants to Switzerland
African immigrants to Switzerland include Swiss residents, both Swiss citizens and foreign nationals, who have migrated to Switzerland from Africa. The number has quintupled over the period of 1980 to 2007, with an average growth rate of 6% per annum (doubling time 12 years). According to official Swiss population statistics, 73,553 foreigners with African nationality lived in Switzerland as of 2009 (0.9% of total population, or 4.3% of resident foreigners). Since the census records nationality, not ethnic origin, there is no official estimate of the number of naturalized Swiss citizens from Africa.
Of the 73,553 African nationals recorded in 2007, 78% were considered permanent residents in Switzerland (including recognized refugees, accounting for about 8%), while the remaining 22% were asylum seekers.
Permanent residents with African nationalities, organized by region of origin:
The largest group of residents of North African origin are from Morocco. The above-average increase of residents from Central Africa is due to immigration from Angola, Cameroon and Congo (Brazzaville). Unofficial estimates exist for a number of African nations. For example, an estimated 1,500 people of Cape Verdean descent lived in Switzerland as of 1995.
There was a steep surge of asylum requests from Nigerians in 2009. In April 2010, the director of the Federal Office for Migration (BFM), Alard du Bois-Reymond, issued a statement on the large number of unfounded requests for asylum by nationals of Nigeria in particular. Du Bois-Reymond said that 99.5% of asylum seekers of Nigerian origin were criminals abusing the asylum system, entering Switzerland with the intention of pursuing petty crime and drug dealing. The Nigerian ambassador to Switzerland, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, objected to du Boi-Reymond's statement as an undue generalization.
The question of repatriation is regularly raised in Swiss politics in the context of immigrant criminality, e.g. in the case of a crime wave that was led mainly by Algerians in Geneva's Pâquis district, or in the case of Nigerian organized crime on a nation-wide scale. Switzerland has several repatriation agreements with African states, with Algeria since 2006, which has however been stalled due to a refusal to ratify additional protocols on the part of Algeria.
Switzerland has signed a technical agreement on re-admittance in the case of repatriation of rejected asylum seekers with three African countries, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. There is also a repatriation agreement with Nigeria, but this was suspended by Nigeria following the death of a Nigerian citizen during forced repatriation in March 2010.
Notable Swiss people of African origin are found mostly in sports, especially football, e.g. José Gonçalves, Gelson Fernandes, Gilberto Reis, Oumar Kondé, Bruce Lalombongo, Enes Fermino, Badile Lubamba, Hervé Makuka, Mobulu M'Futi, Ugor Nganga, Blaise Nkufo, Cédric Tsimba, Johan Djourou, Owusu Benson, Richmond Rak, Kim Jaggy. The first Swiss ever to play in the NBA, Thabo Sefolosha, is the Swiss-born son of a black South African immigrant.
- Ausländerinnen und Ausländer in der Schweiz - Bericht 2008 (German) (1196 KiB), Swiss Federal Statistical Office, page 72. Wohnbevölkerung nach Geschlecht und detaillierter Staatsangehörigkeit, Federal Statistical Office.
- A total of 30% had residence status N (asylum seeker) or F (refugee) as of 2007. Federal Office of Statistics, p. 14.
- Federal Office of Statistics
- 1995 Cape Verdean Diaspora Population Estimates
- Task-Force gegen Asylmissbrauch 11 April 2010.
- Nigerianischer Botschafter verlangt Aussprache mit Schweizer Bundesamtschef 29 April 2010;  NZZ 29 April 2010.
- Refugee repatriation debate rears its head swissinfo.ch 4 March 2010.
- Nigeria setzt Ausschaffung faktisch ausser Kraft 16 April 2010.
- Central Intelligence Agency. "Switzerland." The World Factbook. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
- Inside Africa Switzerland