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Lost and waiting Swiss families take in young asylum seekers

Two brothers were separated from their parents while fleeing Afghanistan. Thanks to a volunteer organisation, Hamed and Khalil Majidi have found a new home with a Swiss family. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The brothers are two of 1,997 unaccompanied minors who came to Switzerland seeking asylum in 2016. In 2010, only 235 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in the Alpine nation, but by 2015, there were ten times as many children seeking refuge without an adult by their side. Since the partial closure of a refugee route through the Balkan countries in 2016, Switzerland has seen slightly fewer applications for asylum overall.

But more and more unaccompanied minors are seeking asylum; in 2016, they made up over 7% of all asylum seekers in Switzerland. Some cantons provide asylum centres just for unaccompanied minors and families. In canton Fribourg, for example, children are given help with their homework and adjusting to a new school, especially in a different language, and they are taught how to cook and eat healthily. Some minors also need psychological support or treatment.

Hamed and Khalil Majidi were reconnected with their parents after having lived in Switzerland for six months. The boys now regularly talk to their parents on the phone, but for the moment they are staying with their Swiss host family. They have received temporary permits to stay in Switzerland, where they will continue to go to school.

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