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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

In Switzerland, a new campaign addresses asylum seeker destitution

Source: Ecre

Four Swiss organisations – Amnesty International (AI), l'Organisation suisse d'aide aux réfugiés (OSAR), l'Observatoire du droit d'asile et des étrangers (ODAE) and Solidarités sans frontières – have launched a campaign criticising the Swiss “emergency assistance” system for asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. Since 2008, this group cannot benefit from ordinary social assistance and are only entitled to “emergency assistance” which, according to the organisations, forces around 5,800 people to live in a precarious situation, in violation of their fundamental rights and human dignity.

The system was intended to have a dissuasive effect on people attempting to seek protection in Switzerland and also to convince people who have received a negative decision on their applications to leave the country. However, only 12-17% of the persons concerned by the measure have actually left the country.

Simonetta Sommaruga, the newly-appointed Minister for Justice, has recently criticised the current Swiss asylum system, considering that there has been no improvement over the past 20 years, and that there was a “crisis of credibility” among the public. The four organisations expressed their hope that Mrs Sommaruga will be sensitive to the issue of “emergency assistance”. The Campaign will include awareness-raising activities among the Swiss population and a petition addressed to Minister Sommaruga.
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