The human rights organisation Amnesty International has submitted a petition to the federal government asking that it admit more refugees within the context of the current crisis.
The petition, launched in July 2014 following the death of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, was addressed to all European governments requesting them to act more aggressively on the growing refugee crisis facing the continent. Over half a million people signed the appeal, including approximately 11,000 in Switzerland.
The NGO’s Swiss section said that while it saluted Switzerland’s decision to welcome an additional 3,000 refugees this year, “given the size of the current crisis, this number should be revised upward”.
The organisation said Switzerland should also extend humanitarian visas to vulnerable refugees, including pregnant women, children and ill people, as well as expedite the reuniting of separated family members.
The Swiss branch said that compared to Europe, the number of requests for asylum in Switzerland during the first half of this year was “moderate”. The number of asylum requests between January and June increased by 16% compared with the same period last year, representing a total of 11,873 requests. The European Union experienced a 68% increase in the number of asylum requests over the same period.
The justice ministry told swissinfo.ch that the government will react in due time to the points presented in the petition.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International’s annual report criticised Switzerland for its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, highlighting problems pertaining to forced deportations.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last week said that 224,000 migrants and refugees had crossed the Mediterranean by the end of July. More than 3,200 people died in perilous crossings last year, and 2,000 deaths have so far been recorded this year.
swissinfo.ch and agencies