Swiss to take in extra 2,000 Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp, near Jordanian city of Mafraq near the border with Syria Keystone

Switzerland will accept a further 2,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years, the cabinet said on Friday. The target group are vulnerable people who have fled to neighbouring countries but are not allowed to stay there.

This content was published on December 9, 2016 - 14:02

This will mostly be families, women and children, but also the disabled and those who are unwell, it said in a statement.External link

Those taken in will first have been recognised as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Their dossiers will be subject to review by the Swiss intelligence service before they arrive, as is normal practice.

“With the decision … the cabinet continues Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition in taking in recognised refugees, which it re-started in 2013,” it said.

In spring 2015 the cabinet approved the acceptance of 3,000 people from crisis regions, as a measure to support the UNHCR’s resettlement programme and the European Union’s relocation scheme. The resettlement quota will be fulfilled by the beginning of 2017.

In all, CHF12,000 ($11,800) per person will be made available – in addition to the usual CHF6,000 for integration – for the integration of vulnerable people, which is “a particular challenge”, the statement added.

Asylum requests

In parallel to taking in more recognised refugees, Switzerland has been tightening measures against unfounded asylum requests.

Fewer than 30,000 requests for asylum are expected this year, a drop of around 25% on 2015. The percentage of requests made in Switzerland out of all requests made across Europe stands at around 2%. This is the lowest for 20 years, according to the statement.

Switzerland is also helping in the field in Syria. CHF66 million has been released as part of the budget for international cooperation 2017. Since 2011 the Swiss have allocated a total of CHF250 million to help victims of the Syrian crisis.

The foreign ministry is also investigating the possibility of opening a humanitarian office in Damascus.

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