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Farms in Swiss Jura to pilot refugee integration project

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Farms in Swiss Jura to pilot refugee integration project
Volunteers will undertake manual labour on farms in the Jura. Photo: Mark Goebel
10:12 CEST+02:00
Refugees settled in the Swiss Jura can volunteer to undertake unpaid farming work this summer as part of a pilot programme aiming to help them integrate.

The Jura association for the reception of migrants (AJAM) has teamed up with the canton's agriculture authorities to offer the voluntary programme over the summer months, from June to October.

Tasks, limited to manual labour, will involve weeding, pest control and general farm assistance, the association said in a statement.

Volunteers won't be paid but will receive an “integration supplement” provided by the farmer as part of their overall welfare allowance.

Currently 880 recognized refugees have been granted or are awaiting a residency B permit in the canton of Jura, while a further 170 asylum seekers have been granted temporary residency there and cannot be sent back to their home country, according to AJAM.

“Nearly 90 percent of these people will settle permanently in Switzerland,” it said.

“It is often very difficult for these people to find new purpose in their lives and to integrate in our community.”

Farm work is one of several ideas AJAM is proposing to help them integrate.

The association will monitor the administration of the programme, while in return “the farmers will oversee the social integration of the refugees by boosting their language knowledge”.

The association is “looking forward to this win-win partnership serving both integration and the environment,” it added.

Speaking last year AJAM said the people of the Jura had been particularly welcoming to migrants, and that it had received “numerous spontaneous offers aimed at welcoming migrants, offering them shelter or goods or helping them to integrate into Jura society,” it said in a September statement.  

According to the latest figures from the federal migration office (SEM), 1,748 asylum requests were placed in Switzerland in April, 224 fewer than the previous month, continuing an overall downward trend seen since last December.

Most asylum requests come from Eritreans, Gambians, Somalis, Syrians, Afghans and Moroccans.  

On June 5th the Swiss people will vote on a government-backed initiative aimed at speeding up the asylum process in Switzerland, which would bring “substantial savings in the medium and long term”, says the SEM. 

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