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Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees

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Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees
Seven refugees have been granted a B residency permit and will stay in the village. File photo: The Local
09:59 CEST+02:00
Authorities in a Swiss village have told landlords not to let their properties to asylum seekers for fear they may settle permanently in the area and become a financial burden.

The council in the commune of Rekingen, in the canton of Aargau, is worried that refugees granted a B residency permit will stay in the village and depend on social welfare payable by the commune.

The notice in the official community newsletter Strichpunkt said: “The humanitarian idea behind renting an apartment to them is commendable”.

“These people depend on financial aid,” it added. “Once the municipality is liable, it could mean financial ruin for the community of Rekingen.”

“For this reason we ask property owners to refrain from making rental agreements with asylum seekers who are granted a B permit”

The notice was issued after the council was told that seven asylum seekers had been granted B permits and had decided to stay in Rekingen for the foreseeable future.

In Switzerland asylum seekers are financially supported by the canton they are allocated to on arrival.

Under the rules, once they are recognized as refugees they are given a one-year renewable B permit, allowing temporary residency in Switzerland. From then on, any future welfare benefits, if required, would then be paid by the commune.

Those granted a B permit may choose to live anywhere within the canton but cannot move to another canton without permission.

According to local paper the Aargauer Zeitung, which reported the story on Wednesday, the village of 1,000 residents has hosted 143 asylum seekers in dedicated accommodation since 2009.

Of the seven recently granted the right to stay in Switzerland, five – all Eritreans – have decided to stay in the commune and found a private home there, said the paper.

The council’s ‘advice’ to landlords in its newsletter has outraged a local refugee association.

Patrizia Bertschi, president of the Aargau Asylum Network Association, said the commune should be helping the refugees to integrate rather than fearing the worst.

“The fact is that these mostly young men were recognized by Switzerland as refugees and will stay here in all likelihood the rest of their lives,” she told the paper.

“So we need to support them to find the right path to financial independence.”

Speaking to the paper, Roman Knöpfel, a municipal councillor responsible for asylum, said it wasn’t true that Rekingen didn’t want to help the refugees, but that there was a shortage of jobs in the area and it would not be “terribly attractive or lucrative” for them to remain there long term.

Asylum seekers in Switzerland are allocated to cantons according to population size.

The canton of Aargau receives 7.7 percent of all asylum seekers in the country, the fourth most after Zurich (17 percent), Bern (13.5 percent) and Vaud (8.4 percent).

 

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