Around 75 refugees from 19 cantons and 15 countries met in Bern on Sunday for the first Swiss refugee parliament. Participants discussed and put forward various proposals for improvement.
Family visits in the Schengen area for provisionally admitted persons, better access to education, or that apprentices whose applications have been rejected be able to complete their apprenticeships: these are some of the requests made by those present, said the National Coalition Building InstituteExternal link (NCBI), which organised the event in a church.
The refugee parliament also voted in favour of extending family reunification to parents of children already in Switzerland.
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate were present on Sunday and could therefore relay these demands in the form of motions to the federal parliament. Lisa Mazzone from the Green Party said too often votes were taken in parliament without all parliamentarians knowing the actual situation of refugees.
“There needs to be a meeting between the refugee parliament and the federal parliament,” she said.
Making their voices heard
The NCBI, an association that is active in several countries and which works against violence and discrimination, said refugees were too often discussed without being able to express their views themselves.
Representatives of NGOs Caritas and Terre des Hommes Switzerland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also took part in this first event of its kind, the results of which will be made public on June 21.
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