Swiss adapt housing policy for Ukraine refugees

More than 20,000 refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, have been put up in private housing. © Keystone/Jean-Christophe Bott

The Swiss authorities are planning to return to a regular reallocation of refugees from Ukraine in a bid to reduce the burden notably for some cities.

This content was published on April 21, 2022 minutes

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said the aim was to house registered Ukrainian refugees taking into account the capacities in the regionsExternal link.

The country’s 26 cantons play a key role in applying the government's asylum policy under the Swiss federalist system.

“We want to create more stability both for the refugees and the cantonal offices in charge of welfare or education to avoid a disproportional distribution of people in need,” SEM’s David Keller told a news conference on Thursday.

Cities including Zurich, Basel and Bern as well as the Ticino region have increasingly been struggling with a high number of refugees.

Keller as well as a senior cantonal official, Gaby Szöllösy, said they were aware of potential conflicts of interest if registered refugees or host families could no longer decide freely.

Around 37,000 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Switzerland over the past seven weeks. About half of them have been put up in private households as part of efforts by NGOs and individual citizens’ solidarity.

All but a few Ukrainian refugees were granted a special legal status which allows them to apply for a job and are eligible for language courses to help integrate.

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