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Ukraine war: Growing streams of refugees threaten to plunge Switzerland into asylum chaos

published28. June 2022, 04:36

Switzerland expects to soon have to take in significantly more refugees. The cantons fear bottlenecks in accommodation. According to an expert, only private accommodation makes sense in the long term.

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Sailor Walser

daniel graf

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Around 56,000 people seeking protection from Ukraine are currently accommodated in Switzerland. Almost 40,000 live with host families.

REUTERS

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), one is still prepared for this in the summer.  After the summer months it could get tight.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), one is still prepared for this in the summer. After the summer months it could get tight.

20min/Celia Nogler

In summer.
20min/Matthias Spicher

Around 56,000 people seeking protection from Ukraine are currently accommodated in Switzerland. Almost 40,000 live with host families. Private individuals were instructed to ensure housing for at least three months. Now it turns out that it will probably take longer. Experts continue to expect a long war of attrition by Russia against Ukraine.

The cantons assume that 4,000 Ukrainians will leave their host families every month in the summer and have to be accommodated again. At the same time, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) continues to expect up to 6,000 people seeking protection per month who are at the border. Depending on how things develop, around 10,000 accommodation places would be needed each month.

Freezing Ukrainians will come to Switzerland

According to the SEM, you are still prepared for this in summer. After the summer months, however, things could get tight: “The cantons fear that they will run into a bottleneck in accommodation in the fall,” says Gaby Szöllösy, Secretary General of the Conference of Cantonal Social Directors (SODK). The reasons for this are the duration of the conflict, impending bottlenecks in the energy supply and the low temperatures. “If the people in Ukraine are freezing and there is no end to the war in sight, they will probably leave their country more often.”

“By autumn we have to look for solutions on how we can do justice to those seeking protection,” says Szöllösy. It is a matter of looking in advance for state accommodation options. But the starting position is challenging. “We not only have to ensure accommodation, but also have qualified staff who can guarantee professional care.”

“Bunkers are not a long-term solution”

The German migration expert Benjamin Schraven also says: “If the war shifts back to Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine, there will be further waves of refugees.” The authorities should be prepared for this. “If accommodation is scarce, accommodation in public facilities such as schools or bunkers is possible at short notice,” says Schraven.

However, this is not a long-term solution. “Many refugees have post-traumatic stress disorder.” These in particular need time to themselves in a quiet environment in order to be able to process what they have seen. “Only domestic accommodation can offer this level of privacy.”

“Must not be unprepared in the fall”

Campax also sees that there could be bottlenecks in the fall. “The cantons must now take a close look and take all possible accommodation into account in the planning in order to get through the winter well,” says Managing Director Andreas Freimüller. “They have to take everything they can get.”

At the same time, according to Freimüller, the cantons need to get in touch more with the civilian population. “There are still a large number of people who would help.” The cantons must be aware that a willing population is a tremendous resource for solving problems. “What must not happen is that we are unprepared for a problem in the fall. The cantons must now use the time well.”

Professionally managed facilities are in demand

ORS Service AG also sees that action is needed. The company is responsible for more than 100 asylum shelters and supports the authorities in planning to create more shelter capacity by autumn. “The host families who have taken in refugees at short notice need relief. They are reaching their limits, »says ORS media spokesman Lutz Hahn.

Hahn is aware of the difficulty of the task. «The housing market for accommodation in your own four walls is limited. Joint efforts across all levels are all the more required.” The worst thing for Hahn would be if the fugitives had to be taken to underground accommodation for a longer period of time. “Everyone involved must now look for preventive solutions.”

Are you or someone you know concerned about the war in Ukraine?

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