Ukraine refugees: federal asylum centres overrun

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Zurich in Switzerland © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Swiss federal asylum centres have reported extremely high numbers of refugees from Ukraine registering for protected S status, a day after the move was officially approved in Switzerland.

This content was published on March 12, 2022

State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) spokesman Daniel Bach told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Saturday afternoon the SEM was working around the clock to help refugees. It was being supported by the non-governmental Swiss Refugee Council.

“The federal asylum centres are being overrun,” he said from on site at a federal centre in Zurich.

He called on those refugees who are staying privately with friends and family to come within the next few days for the S permit, as they already have a 90 day residency permit.

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On Friday the Swiss government announced that Ukrainians fleeing the war would be eligible for a temporary S permit to live and immediately work in Switzerland, which would come into force on Saturday. The status, initially valid for a year, has never before been activated.

New arrivals from Ukraine were being processed quickly on Saturday to ensure they had somewhere to stay. The Refugee Council was organising private accommodation, but Bach said there was also still enough room at federal asylum centres. By the afternoon, the SEM tweeted that it expected to register 400 people by the evening.

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On Sunday morning there were 3,117 registered refugees in Switzerland, of which 2,011 were accommodated in federal asylum centres and 1,106 privately, according to the latest figures tweeted by the SEM.

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