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Transit centre Being a mother figure to asylum seekers

Rita Donatz has become a key figure at Buch’s transit centre for asylum seekers. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The Friedeck transit centre for asylum seekers in Buch in canton Schaffhausen has been open for over 30 years, caring for asylum seekers from all over the world who are waiting for a decision on their application. 

Donatz is Friedeck’s current deputy director and has been working there for the last 22 years. Hundreds of asylum seekers have gone through the transit centre. For all of them Donatz was known as “Mama Rita”. She earned the nickname for her willingness to listen to asylum seekers’ concerns, while also exercising her authority when rules are broken. 

Friedeck is currently overcrowded. Made to hold 70 asylum seekers, it is now home to about 100 people from 27 different countries.

Switzerland has seen an 11% increase in the number of asylum seekers compared with 2013, a trend that reflects the historic high number of displaced persons globally.