Bern hosts social campaign to help refugee minors feel at home in Switzerland
An exchange programme in Bern has been launched where young Swiss students work alongside unaccompanied minor refugees to clean up the country’s forests. The campaign is designed so that students can share their experiences and make friends with one another, helping the refugees integrate into Switzerland.
Exchange programme helps combat racism in Switzerland
Students from schools in the Bernese Oberland are working together with young refugees to help maintain Switzerland’s forests and protect the environment. The project not only contributes to environmental protection in Switzerland but also gives unaccompanied refugees under the age of 18 a rare opportunity to connect with Swiss youngsters their own age.
"The young people are of a similar age and all grow up in the Canton Bern, but their paths would hardly ever cross in everyday life", Kaspar Zürcher, the head of the Bergwald Education Workshop Foundation, told Swiss broadcaster SRF. Zürcher believes the programme gives young people from different backgrounds the opportunity to connect, preventing racism in the country’s next generation, and helping young refugees integrate into Switzerland.
Swiss asylum system coming under pressure in recent months
Forestry projects like the one in Bern have been praised by those taking part in the project, who see it as a way to bridge the gap between different cultures, even when the participants don’t speak the same language as one another. “If you make an effort, you can still exchange ideas a bit. It's exciting to meet new people and spend time together," one of the participants told SRF.
Switzerland's asylum system has come under scrutiny in recent months, as overcrowding in some asylum centres has sparked concerns over the health and safety of refugees. Switzerland is also currently embroiled in a war of words with the European Union (EU) over the country’s treatment of migrants, with the bloc calling on Switzerland to uphold international immigration treaties.