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Switzerland boosts care for solo minors seeking asylum 

Syrian child in war-torn area of Damascus
(Keystone / Mohammed Badra)

Switzerland’s federal asylum centres will in 2020 introduce staff specialising in social and educational matters to assist unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. 

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEMexternal link) has decided to implement a series of measures to ensure appropriate housing and care conditions for minors in federal asylum centres.   

This is in line with recommendations from a Zurich University evaluation of a pilot project launched in July 2017 and tested in the federal asylum centres in the cities of Basel and Zurich. 

The new strategy will be implemented from 1 January 2020 in all six regions tasked with conducting asylum procedures. 

An external specialist will initially be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive protection strategy and an emergency plan for the young asylum-seeker. 

More socio-educational specialists are being recruited for all the centres to support care staff.  

In addition, freelance interpreters will be present at all relevant meetings, according to a statement from SEM issued on Tuesday. 

Several measures are planned to improve cooperation between SEM and legal representatives, care providers and authorities for the protection of minors and adults. This also applies to the transfer of the minors to custody at the cantonal level. 

Swiss law defines an unaccompanied minor as a young migrant who is under the age of 18 and is not accompanied by an adult who takes care of him or her. 

In 2018, European countries recorded some 602,920 new asylum seekers. Nearly a third of them (32%) were children (191,360), according to UNICEF.external link This represents a drop of 8% compared with the number of child asylum seekers in 2017.   

Switzerland has been criticised in the past for its asylum procedures regarding unaccompanied minors.


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