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Border closure Bishop slams calls to shut refugees out

Border guard at the border between Switzerland and Italy is about to check a group of people at the Chiasso station 

(Keystone)

The head of Switzerland’s biggest Roman Catholic diocese has strongly criticised proposals by politicians to close the country’s borders to asylum seekers.

Bishop Felix Gmür said such a move was “completely mistaken” in an interview in the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper.

“Nothing would be gained – not even for Switzerland,” he is quoted as saying.

Over the past few weeks, notably politicians, notably from the right, have demanded the government stops refugees from crossing the border between Italy and Switzerland.

Ahead of October’s parliamentary elections, the conservative right People’s Party has also called on the local Swiss population to block plans by the authorities for refugee centres in villages and towns.

Gmür also calls for increased efforts to improve Switzerland’s development aid programmes.

“We have not exploited our possibilities to promote education, infrastructure and the rule of law. This is regrettable.”

Tents

Meanwhile, the defence ministry says it will provide army tents free of charge to accommodate refugees.

A spokesman confirmed that canton Aargau which had requested support from the army, would not be billed for the 13 tents which are to serve as temporary lodging for up to 140 asylum seekers.

The costs are estimated at several hundred thousand francs, according to the spokesman.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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