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No Red Cross observers on repatriation flights

The Swiss Red Cross has declined an offer by the government to accompany repatriations of rejected asylum seekers.

"We have checked the request carefully but decided to reject the offer because of a general incompatibility,” a Red Cross spokesman was quoted in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

He said the role as a neutral observer would be “highly problematic”.

The Federal Migration Office said it was disappointed by the rejection and would invite other non-governmental organisations.

Under an agreement with the European Union, Switzerland has to allow independent observers to accompany repatriations as of next year.

In March, Switzerland temporarily suspended all deportation flights following the death of a rejected Nigerian asylum seeker who was to be sent back against his will.

Operations were resumed in July except to Nigeria.

Last year Switzerland forcefully repatriated about 360 people, mostly to southeastern Europe and to African countries. and agencies

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