Aargau sparks debate with tents for refugees

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Morven McLean - [email protected]
Aargau sparks debate with tents for refugees
Screenshot: SRF

Plans by the canton of Aargau to start putting asylum seekers up in army tents from next week amid a shortage of suitable accommodation have met with mixed reactions.


It’s the first time Swiss authorities are resorting to tents to deal with a lack of space in reception centres although it is not uncommon in neighbouring countries.

The Swiss army is erecting 13 tents in the canton to house around 140 young men over the summer, 20 Minuten reported online.

Aargau said that in June it had to house 276 new asylum seekers and the figure for July was expected to be similar.

Last week the Swiss government reported a big jump in asylum requests in June.

Stella Jegher of Amnesty International told the paper that if camps were to be set up it was important to have good infrastructure, protection against heat and cold, and places for people to withdraw to.

“Special consideration has to be given to young and traumatised refugees,” she said.

Swiss aid to refugees SFH said the idea was “not unreasonable” for a limited period of time.

“But no-one wants to see big tent camps like they have in Germany and Austria,” Stefan Frey, refugee organization spokesman told the NZZ online.

Frey said Switzerland had the option of using civil protection shelters, which other countries did not.

He said the canton of Aargau was a special case because of its politics being dominated by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

Centre-left politicians have criticised the move. “The authorities should be in the position to provide people-friendly accommodation,” SP member of the National Council Bea Heim told 20 Minuten.

Aargau was sending out a message that there was an emergency situation, but this was not the case, the Social Democrat said.

“The emergency is in Syria, Eritrea, North Africa and the Mediterranean, not here,” she said.

But one asylum seeker from Iraq who is being housed by the canton reacted positively to the idea of being put up in a tent.

“It’s unbearably hot in the asylum centre, I’d be happy to live in a tent,” Mohammed told the Tages-Anzeiger.




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