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Unwanted Zurich cuts funding for temporary asylum seekers

Counting up the 'yes' and 'no' votes in canton Zurich.

(© KEYSTONE / WALTER BIERI)

Foreigners who have received temporary asylum in canton Zurich will have their state allowance drastically cut. 

More than two-thirds of voters in the canton agreed to the cuts on Sunday, which means a person with a status ‘F’ permit will no longer be able to apply for social assistance to help make ends meet. 

Once the decision is implemented, these asylum seekers may only request emergency funds. This will result in much lower payments – approximately CHF300 ($310) per month, instead of the current CHF900. 

Syrians, Iraqis. Afghanis

Around 5,600 will be affected by the decision – from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In all cases, their requests for asylum were rejected but they received temporary permission to stay since the conditions in their home countries make it impossible for them to be returned. 

The initiative was launched by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, which argued that people admitted only temporarily shouldn’t have come to the country in the first place, and the benefits provided a false incentive to stay. 

Jeopardise integration

Greens, leftwing Social Democrats as well as centre-right Christian Democrats were opposed to the plan, saying it would jeopardise the integration of people who most likely would remain in Switzerland. 

The change amounts to savings for the canton up to CHF10 million per year, since under the previous system it had to reimburse the communes for social assistance over a period of ten years. 

In canton Bern in May, a similar vote also went against setting aside money for asylum seekers. The government plan had called for CHF105 million to go to helping juvenile migrants integrate.

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