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North African refugees helped to return home

Iraqis whose asylum applications have been rejected can temporarily stay in Switzerland

(Keystone Archive)

The Federal Migration Office has launched an assistance programme to encourage failed North African asylum seekers to voluntarily return home.

But it decided not to expel rejected Iraqi asylum seekers, who will be allowed to stay on in Switzerland temporarily.

The Swiss programme for North Africans will run until October 31, 2007 and is aimed at around 2,400 nationals from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania who applied for asylum in Switzerland before November 1, 2005.

Each returning adult will receive SFr2,000 ($1,550) and each child SFr1,000.

The programme will also contribute financial aid of up to SFr3,000 towards individual projects or training to facilitate professional and social reintegration.

The programme includes support for centres which give advice on returning, travel organisations and obtaining travel documents.

Swiss assistance programmes for the return of immigrants to their home countries currently exist for Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Iraq

In a separate development, the Federal Migration Office announced on Tuesday that since September rejected Iraqi asylum seekers have been able to remain in Switzerland on a temporary permit.

A spokesman for the migration office said the decision was based on the current uncertain situation in Iraq and would remain in place until further notice.

An estimated 2,000-2,500 Iraqis will benefit from this temporary lift on forced expulsion.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

There are currently around 2,500 asylum seekers from Iraq in Switzerland.
Since July 2003, 250 Iraqis in Switzerland have returned to their country under a Swiss assistance programme.
Since September the Swiss government has allowed rejected Iraqi asylum seekers to remain in Switzerland temporarily because of the uncertain situation in Iraq.

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In brief

The new aid programme will affect around 2,400 nationals from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania.

It runs from November 1, 2005 until October 31, 2007.

Each returning adult will receive SFr2,000 ($1,550) and each child SFr1,000.

The programme will also contribute up to SFr3,000 towards individual projects or training.

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