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Civil defence unit to help with Ukrainian refugees

Men setting up temporary beds in refugee centre
Members of the Swiss civil defence organisation help set up temporary housing for refugees. © Keystone/Valentin Flauraud

The Swiss government has given the green light for the civil protection organisation to support refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

It allows the immigration authorities to ask for up to 24,000 days of service from members of the civil defence organisation by the end of October, according to a statement publishedExternal link on Wednesday.

The staff will help set up emergency shelters and provide support to refugees who benefit from a special legal status for at least 12 months in Switzerland.

The costs of the mandate are estimated at CHF1.2 million ($1.3 million).

The authorities have been under pressure to register, advise and house between 700 and 1,400 new refugees arriving in Switzerland every day since the middle of March.

The civil protection organisation is part of Switzerland’s militia system and its purpose is to protect the population in the event of disasters and emergencies.

More than 40,000 members helped the health authorities in hospitals and homes during the Covid pandemic over the past two years providing more than 560,000 days of service, according to the defence ministry.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR