Justice minister: Switzerland preparing for Ukrainian refugees

Crowds trying to leave Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, March 4. Keystone / Zurab Kurtsikidze

Switzerland is activating emergency planning among national and cantonal authorities, as well as counting on the help of private citizens, to prepare for the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing the war, Karin Keller-Sutter has said.

This content was published on March 6, 2022 minutes
NZZ am Sonntag/

The justice minister told the NZZ am Sonntag paper that she couldn’t say how many Ukrainians would arrive in Switzerland, but that her EU counterparts talked earlier this week of a possible five to seven million displaced.

On Sunday, the United Nations said more than 1.5 million have already fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, making it the fastest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

On Friday, the Swiss government announced plans to activate a special S permitExternal link for those in need of emergency protection – a permit that would allow Ukrainians to live and work in the country for a year, with an option to extend if necessary.

The permit, which is similar to the Temporary Protection Directive invoked at EU level, was created following the conflicts in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, but has never been activated. The government will make a final decision on the details next Friday.

Private help

While Keller-Sutter said that federal and cantonal authorities were working to prepare for Ukrainian arrivals, she was also counting on the “massive” solidarity of Swiss people, many of whom say they are keen to help in housing the refugees.

“This can help to ease the burden on authorities,” she said.

The director of Campax, an online platform for civic projects, told the Le Matin Dimanche paper on Sunday that his organisation had already received notice from over 10,000 people in Switzerland, offering some 32,000 beds for refugees.

Keller-Sutter also informed her EU counterparts this week of Switzerland’s readiness to sign up to a Europe-wide resettlement scheme. However, as yet, this is not something that Eastern European countries want, she told the NZZ am Sonntag.

External Content
In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?