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Swiss canton to use Ikea kit homes for refugees

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Swiss canton to use Ikea kit homes for refugees
The Ikea kit homes can be set up in four hours without any special tools. Photo: Ikea
16:30 CET+01:00
Switzerland's Aargau canton is planning to purchase 200 Ikea-designed flat-pack homes to provide temporary accommodation for asylum seekers in the region.

The move, a first for Switzerland, was announced by Greens politician Susanne Hochuli on Thursday.

Aargau has already tested the 17.5 square-metre homes designed by the Swedish furniture giant together with the UNHCR.

Authorities now plan to set up 60 such units providing homes for 300 people in an industrial estate near the town of Frick in 2016. The kit homes will be placed within two warehouses with one set aside for families and one housing men only. They will then be disassembled in 2018.

The shelters, which arrive in the same cardboard boxes as other large pieces of Ikea furniture, can be set up in four hours without any special tools.

They are not heated and don't feature plumbing but Hochuli believes the ventilated homes are preferable to another housing option already being used by Aargau: civil protection bunkers.

At a cost of 1,200 Swiss francs per shelter plus 500 Swiss francs for the furniture required, cost is also a definite advantage, the Tribune de Genève reports.

Swiss federal authorities will be watching the Frick experiment closely although there remains, to date, no shortage of accommodation in the country's civil facilities.

Switzerland's defence minister Ueli Maurer said in early October Switzerland's emergency public bunkers could provide shelter for up to 50,000 people.

At present, however, just 3,500 refugees are housed in such facilities.

Bern will be watching proceedings in Frick carefully for another reason too.

The carefully-planned project – local authorities in Frick have been fully involved with every stage of its development – also functions as a public relations exercise with cantonal authorities testing the waters as they push towards the establishment of larger, fixed asylum centres in future, according to the regional daily Aargauer Zeitung.

Switzerland said recently it was prepared to take in some 5,000 refugees in the next two years on the condition the Dublin system remains in place.

To date, the country has seen only a limited numbers of refugees.

September figures released by the Swiss Migration Office (SEM) show that a total of 3,899 asylum requests were placed in August, just three more than in July and hardly the influx experienced by other European countries.

Of the Swiss total, 1,610 requests came from Eritreans, 461 from Afghans, 401 from Syrians and 180 from Iraqis.

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