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Asylum New status demanded for ‘in limbo’ refugees

A refugee doing agricultural work in Basel

(Keystone)

Church charity Caritas is calling for a new protective status for people who do not receive asylum in Switzerland but who are not deported. It says they should receive the same rights as refugees who are accepted. 

Temporarily admitted people are those who are not granted asylum because they do not comply with the term “refugee” as defined in the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugeesexternal link, Caritas said on Thursday. However, they cannot be deported from Switzerland because their countries of origin are plagued by war and violence. 

In addition, “temporary residency” does not reflect reality in most cases, Caritas continued. More and more people are spending a very long time in limbo, according to the charity, with more than 30,000 people in this situation in Switzerland. That includes many women, families, older people and children. 

Although the view was growing – also among politicians – that the situation of temporarily admitted people had to be improved, Caritas said suggestions so far mainly concerned finding employment. 

The charity is therefore calling for “comprehensive legal reforms”. As a first step, it suggests replacing “temporarily admitted” with a new complementary protective status, which should give refugees fleeing war and general violence the same rights as admitted refugees. 

“If a return to the country of origin is still impossible after three years, a residency permit should be granted,” it said. 

The Federal Commission on Migration also demanded a new status for temporarily admitted people, putting a new protective concept up for discussion in December. 

What’s more, in order to improve integration, Caritas wants to lift the three-year waiting period for family reunifications as well as the criteria for such reunifications.

Definition of a refugee

"A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."

(Source: 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees)

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swissinfo.ch and agencies


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