Politicians and refugee groups discuss Swiss asylum policy

Politicians, police and refugee groups met in Berne on Thursday to discuss Switzerland's asylum policy. The talks came as figures show a record number of refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland in June.

This content was published on July 1, 1999 - 17:04

Politicians, police and refugee groups met in Berne on Thursday to discuss Switzerland's asylum policy. The talks came as figures show a record number of refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland in June.

The aim of the conference was to try to find common ground between the federal and cantonal authorities on how to proceed with asylum policy.

According to the Justice and Police Ministry, plans to repatriate refugees to Kosovo were welcomed by the cantons. However, there was no agreement on whether to introduce a temporary work ban as well as a change in visa regulations for the asylum seekers.

Despite the end of fighting in Kosovo, hundreds of asylum seekers are continuing to cross into Switzerland.

The authorities reported that 9,000 requests for asylum were made in the month of June alone - a "figure not seen since World War II," according to a Federal Refugee Office spokeswoman. The figure breaks the previous record of 5,900 asylum-seekers set last October.

As of Thursday, those asylum seekers who leave Switzerland voluntarily receive a financial incentive of SFr2000 ($1290) per adult- SFr1000 ($645) per child - as well as reconstruction aid once they return to the Serbian province. However, only those having entered Switzerland before July 1 are eligible for the financial support.

On Thursday the mass-circulation Blick tabloid published an interview with Swiss Justice Minister Ruth Metzler in both Albanian and German.

Metzler called for an understanding of the government's asylum policy, and urged Swiss people to show tolerance and patience towards the refugees. She also appealed to refugees to value Swiss hospitality and not to abuse it.


Source: SRI, sda-ats, Blick

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