Swiss minister in Brussels to discuss rules for displaced Ukrainians

Displaced Ukrainians in Poland, Thursday, March 3. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Before a meeting of European Union ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter repeated her plan to activate a special permit for Ukrainians fleeing their country due to war.

This content was published on March 3, 2022

The Swiss S permitExternal link, for “people in need of protection” would allow Ukrainians to stay in the country longer than the 90 days allowed under the Schengen agreement, and to apply for employment, albeit provisionally.

It is also similar to the EU’s Temporary Protection DirectiveExternal link being discussed today in Brussels, said Keller-Sutter. Neither the Swiss S permit nor the EU directive under consideration have ever before been activated.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmenin, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday that he hoped for a concrete decision “in the coming days”.

A large majority of EU ministers already agreed last Sunday on the principle of temporarily welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

As of Thursday, over a million people have fled Ukraine due to the war, according to the latest figures by the UN.

Citizen solidarity

Keller-Sutter, who defended the S permit against some left-wing criticisms that it is less generous than the EU equivalent, also said on Thursday that Switzerland would be willing to participate in a Europe-wide repartition programme for displaced Ukrainians, if and when this would be activated.

According to the AFP news agency, at this stage no such plan is yet on the table.

On Wednesday, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said just 150 Ukrainians had applied for asylum since the outbreak of war, but that the numbers were rising, and it was possible that some had already found accommodation in private Swiss households.

A citizen campaign involving people signing up to offer accommodation, organised by the Campax platform, had by Wednesday received notice from some 6,613 Swiss households ready to welcome displaced Ukrainians – that’s 15,904 beds.

SEM has also put together a taskforce made up of various ministries, social administrations and the army, to discuss the probable arrival of displaced people – it is also due to meet today.

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