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Open doors


A short-term solution to a refugee housing crisis


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The asylum centres in one Swiss canton are full and Einsiedeln’s well-known Abbey has come to their aid. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

Canton Schwyz cannot cope with the number of asylum seekers needing housing. With the authorities looking for alternatives, the abbey in Einsiedeln has stepped in to provide temporary shelter for 40 Eritreans.

Asylum seekers are being housed in a simple shelter made for pilgrims. They are in Switzerland after fleeing violence in their country. In August, almost half of the asylum requests in Switzerland came from Eritreans.

The asylum seekers will stay a maximum of three months at the Benedictine monastery. During that time they’ll be helping out around the abbey. Up until now the public have not expressed concern at the abbey’s decision. The Eritreans have been asked to avoid conflict with local residents.

Fiona Elze from the cantonal migration office is positive that there won’t be any problems with villagers. For these Eritreans the abbey is just a short-term solution while the canton looks for apartments to house them elsewhere.