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Swiss to help refugees from Ukraine

Switzerland is considering granting special temporary refugee status to people fleeing Ukraine. The European Union (EU) is expecting millions of people to leave the country because of the Russian invasion.

The 27-nation bloc has relaxed its rules on refugees and says its member states will welcome them. The Reuters news agency says Brussels is preparing to let them stay and work in the EU for up to three years.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member, seems set to follow the EU’s example. Up to now, Ukrainian citizens could enter Switzerland without a visa for three months with a biometric passport. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter now wants to drop the passport requirement and let them stay for an indefinite period under the so-called “protection status S”. Status S was introduced years ago for mass refugee situations, but has never been implemented.

A concept has been developed that would provide accommodation for 9,000 Ukrainian refugees. The government is expected to decide on Keller-Sutter’s plan on Friday. Political resistance is not expected. In rare show of unanimity, all parties support the move.

Swiss Federal Railways has announced that Ukrainians fleeing the war will be able to take trains for free in Switzerland to transit the country or to reach their Swiss destinations. Similar offers were made by the German, Austrian and Polish national rail networks.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR