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Minister pleads for patience over asylum policy

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said on Friday she is optimistic about finding additional temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

“There is agreement and goodwill both from the federal authorities and the cantons to achieve solutions. But we need time,” she told journalists.

She added that it is not always easy to get suitable housing and to convince the local population which is concerned about possible tensions or cases of petty crime.

Her comments come ahead of further discussions with cantonal authorities.

Under pressure from several political parties and the cantons, the justice ministry earlier this year called for the provision of accommodation for up to 2,000 people amid an expected influx of asylum seekers particularly from north Africa.

Sommaruga defended her plans to grant asylum seekers increased legal protection as part of efforts to speed up the asylum procedure.

She dismissed criticism that her proposal was contradictory and pleaded for a fair procedure under the rule of law.

Sommaruga reiterated that the European asylum agreement known as the Dublin accord, was working well – including with Italy -, but added that the application of the rules in individual cases was taking time.

An opinion poll published on Friday found that immigration and asylum issues are the main concern of Swiss citizens.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR