Secure asylum centre re-opens to cope with rising unruly behaviour

Many asylum centres witness disruptive behaviour. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Switzerland is re-opening a mothballed facility to house disruptive asylum seekers.

This content was published on February 2, 2021 - 14:28

The high security Les Verrières centre in the western canton of Neuchâtel was first opened in December 2019 but was shut down six months later to save costs as the numbers of asylum seekers was dropping. The centre, with space for 20 people, will be reopened in mid-February, says the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

“There are currently asylum seekers in all asylum regions who disrupt the proper operation and coexistence in federal asylum centers and, through their behavior, also impair public safety and order,” read a statement released on Tuesday. “In cooperation with the local and cantonal authorities and its partner organisations, SEM has taken a number of immediate measures to prevent this intolerable behavior.”

One such measure is to re-open Les Verrières to relieve the strain on other asylum centres. It will soon be able to accommodate trouble making male adult asylum seekers.

A recently published report from the Swiss government advisory group, the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT), cited conflict as being part of everyday life in eight federal asylum centres – and that it sometimes escalated into violence. SEM said it would draw up fresh guidelines by the spring of this year.

Even though numbers of asylum seeker applications has dropped during the pandemic, asylum centres have complained of being crowded as they have been forced to introduce social distancing measures to prevent outbreaks of the coronavirus.

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