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Luxembourg meeting Minister calls for solidarity in refugee resettlement

This refugee family is one of the few resettled from Italy and Greece to other European countries through an agreed-upon resettlement programme

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga called for strengthening existing asylum laws and relocation commitments at a meeting of fellow European justice ministers on Thursday. 

"There have been good and important proposals from the EU Commission in recent months to provide a truly European response to this refugee crisis," Sommaruga said at the meeting in Luxembourg. 

Attendees discussed the so-called Dublin accord, which allows asylum seekers to be sent back to the country where they were first registered. Sommaruga defended that accord and said progress had been made in proposals for strengthening it as well as on “common standards for asylum procedures, recognition, accommodation, repatriation”. 

However, she also criticised slow progress on the promised resettlement of thousands of refugees from Italy and Greece to other parts of Europe. 

“Switzerland has always participated in solidarity, but we expect that all member states now really get involved in this implementation,” she said. Switzerland has pledged to take 1,500 refugees from Italy and Greece; so far, 112 have been resettled on Swiss soil. 

Several European countries have not taken in any of the promised refugees and others, such as Hungary and Slovakia, refused to participate altogether. 

Sommaruga also held sideline talks with German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière about cooperation between Germany and Switzerland on border controls and preventing so-called “irregular migration”. The meeting follows on the heels of Switzerland’s promise to contribute border guards to a European Union rapid response border control unit. and agencies

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