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Asylum Providing emergency shelter

The Swiss authorities are coming up with unconventional solutions in their struggle to find suitable accommodation to house an increasing number of asylum seekers. 

Local resistance and a dearth of suitable accommodation, means housing for asylum-seekers remains a challenge. In order to put up new arrivals for short periods, the cantons and communes have resorted to providing a wide range of unusual properties such as underground military bunkers, converted shipping containers, army tents, hospitals, an old fire station and even a country mansion. 

Swiss migration officials anticipate 29,000 asylum applicants for 2015, an increase on recent years but below peaks of the 1990s. However, the State Secretariat for Migration recently warned the 26 cantons they might have to accommodate more arrivals. Up to 1,150 people a week could be placed with the cantons, the federal authorities say – a 15% increase. 

Switzerland has pledged to participate in a European Union programme to relocate refugees fleeing the four-year conflict in Syria. In a first step, Switzerland will accept 1,500 refugees on condition they are registered as asylum seekers in neighbouring Italy or in Greece. The government is also willing to consider up to 5,000 additional refugees over the next two years. (Photos: Keystone)

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