Government will not cap number of Ukrainian refugees allowed into Switzerland
The Swiss government has confirmed that there will be no cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees allowed to enter the country. So far, 28.000 Ukrainian nationals fleeing the Russian invasion have come to stay in Switzerland since the conflict began.
Switzerland will not turn away Ukrainian refugees
Karin Keller-Sutter, Head of the Department of Justice and Police, said that the Federal Council had not placed a limit on the number of refugees allowed to enter Switzerland from Ukraine. She noted, “I don’t see how Switzerland could turn away women and children at the border.”
So far, 23.300 people have been successfully granted an emergency S-residence permit - one of the ways the government has been helping to streamline the process for refugees. The residence permits give refugees the right to stay in Switzerland for a year, find a job and rent houses and apartments, once they are able to support themselves.
Influx of refugees poses major challenge for Switzerland
According to the UNHCR, 4,4 million people have fled Ukraine so far, mainly fleeing to Eastern Europe and the Balkans. While the State Secretariat for Migration (SECO) predicted that 60.000 refugees will stay in Switzerland, cantons have said they are prepared to house up to 300.000 Ukrainian refugees by the end of 2022.
Speaking to journalists last Sunday, Keller-Sutter admitted that taking in so many people at once would pose a major and “very complex” challenge for the country. It is expected to have an impact on the school system, as many families and children will have to learn a Swiss language and participate in primary, secondary and higher education.
Swiss civil protection service deployed to help Ukrainian refugees
Authorities are also under strain, with Swissinfo reporting that SECO has had to advise, register and house between 700 and 1.400 refugees every day. In response to the new influx, Keller-Sutter called for “quick and unbureaucratic solutions” to be implemented to make the process more efficient.
Keller-Sutter confirmed that the government is looking to give cantons financial assistance to help with new refugees and that the civil protection service is to be deployed to set up emergency shelters and provide support. Most recently, the Justice Minister travelled to St. Gallen on Monday to meet with the justice ministers of Germany and Austria to discuss the evolving situation in Ukraine and what they can do to help.