Deportations stopped to worst-hit Ebola lands

A man is buried in Liberia Keystone
This content was published on November 7, 2014 - 22:08 and agencies

Switzerland is currently no longer sending back rejected asylum seekers to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – the West African countries worst affected by Ebola, the justice ministry has said.

Justice ministryExternal link spokesman Philipp Schwander on Friday night confirmed to the Swiss news agency a report which had appeared on Swiss public television, SRF.External link

Rejected asylum seekers from these three countries could see their departure deadlines pushed back if they request it, explained Schwander. The examination of asylum applications from these lands has, for the moment, also been put on ice.

But the deportation move excludes asylum requests from people who have committed serious offences while in Switzerland or those who pose a threat to the internal or external security of the country, Schwander said. Deportations to a third county can still be carried out, he added.

“Since the first appearance of Ebola in Guinea in January 2014, the virus has been spreading, particularly in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has not been possible to contain the virus in these three countries, despite international efforts,” the spokesman pointed out.

The closing of borders and limits on people’s movements have left these countries facing a food crisis and their health systems are nearing collapse, added Schwander.

The non-governmental Swiss Refugee CouncilExternal link has been calling for deportations to be stopped to these destinations. It says seven such deportations have taken place since August.

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization, there have been 13,042 Ebola cases and 4,818 deaths from the virus. It said on Wednesday that the rate of new infections appears to be declining in Liberia, stable in Guinea but still rising in Sierra Leone.

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