Switzerland will take in 800 vulnerable refugees from conflict zones in 2019, mostly from Syria, the government has said.
The country has been accepting groups of recognised refugees as part of a Resettlement Programmeexternal link run by United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2013. In all, 3,500 people have come to Switzerland so far.
In a statement, the Federal Council (government) saidexternal link that the number of asylum requests had fallen in Switzerland and Europe, but that the difficult situation in the countries of origin of migrants and refugees remained. For particularly vulnerable people, who cannot stay in their own countries or in their host countries, being moved elsewhere is the only option.
The current quota will be filled by spring, which is why the government has decided to allow a further 800 refugees in, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said on Friday.
Accepting refugees helps prevent illegal migration and human trafficking. Women, children and older people are not obliged to attempt dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings, she added.
The government said that it wanted to continue taking in vulnerable refugees after 2019 as well. It has worked out a concept for accepting between 1,500 and 2,000 refugees every two years, with the option of reducing the numbers or stopping the programme if need be. But it will first consult with parliamentary commissions about the concept.