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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Swiss aid experts help refugee crisis in Europe

Switzerland has sent five experts from Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA) to Slovenia and Croatia to help local organizations deal with the refugee crisis, the federal government has announced.

Swiss aid experts help refugee crisis in Europe
Migrants arrive at the Šentilj transit centre in Slovenia. Photo: Jure Makovec

In a statement published on Monday, the Swiss foreign office said the SHA personnel were despatched to the region on November 12th after Slovenia and Croatia applied to Switzerland for help at the end of October.

Comprising some 700 people, the SHA is a humanitarian aid corps which is available for direct actions and secondments to international organizations.

The Swiss team will aim to share their expertise and help adapt the existing infrastructure in Slovenia and Croatia to the winter conditions.

The most pressing needs identified by the SHA in the region are better winter infrastructure and sanitation facilities, more translators and support services for volunteers.

The SHA is currently working in the Šentilj transit centre on the Austrian-Slovenian border and will extend their activities to Croatia in the coming days, said the statement.   

Between 4,000 and 7,000 people are crossing into Croatia and Slovenia every day, fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

Switzerland has already provided 1.5 million francs to countries including Serbia and Macedonia in response to calls from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

However the country’s main efforts regarding the refugee crisis have been in the conflict zone itself, with a total of 203 million francs given to projects in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq since March 2011, said the statement.

As for the situation in Switzerland itself, while it is now expecting to exceed the figure of 29,000 refugees initially predicted to arrive here in 2015, the country is still receiving far fewer migrants than the rest of Europe.

According to the UNHCR more than 800,000 people have arrived in Europe during the crisis and 15 million have fled across the Middle East.

The Geneva-based agency has launched  a winter crisis appeal to help refugee families facing the cold months ahead.

After mild weather across much of Europe during November, temperatures are set to drop this coming weekend.

On Tuesday the United Nations called on states not to “backtrack” on pledges made to host migrants and refugees, including from Syria, in the wake of the attacks in Paris on Friday, reported agency AFP.
   
“We are concerned about the reactions from some states to end programmes being put in place, backtracking from commitments made to manage the refugee crisis,” said UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.
   
“Refugees should not be turned into scapegoats and must not become the secondary victims of these most tragic events,” Fleming added, after some EU states indicated they would take a hardline on the migrant crisis following the attacks.

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IMMIGRATION

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

Moving to another country is never easy, as it requires going through cultural changes and administrative formalities. It can be even more complicated when looking for a job.

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

According to new data released by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, the knowledge of the national language and the recognition of professional qualifications are the two most common obstacles experienced by foreign-born people in finding a ‘suitable’ job in countries of the European Union.

Overall, about a quarter of people born outside the EU who had experience in working or looking for work in the bloc reported some difficulties getting a ‘suitable’ job for level of education (without considering the field of expertise or previous experience).

The Eurostat analysis shows that the situation is better for EU citizens moving within the bloc. But there are major differences depending on countries and gender.

Life can be more difficult for women

In 2021, 13.2 percent of men and 20.3 percent of women born in another European Union country reported obstacles in getting a suitable job in the EU place of residence.

These proportions however increase to 20.9 percent for men and 27.3 percent for women born in a non-EU country with a high level of development (based on the United Nations’ Human Development Index) and 31.1 percent for men and 35.7 percent for women from non-EU countries with a low or medium level of development.

Finland (42.9 percent), Sweden (41.7 percent), Luxembourg (34.6 percent) and France (32.1 percent) are the countries with the highest shares of people born outside the EU reporting problems. Norway, which is not part of the bloc, has an even higher percentage, 45.2, and Switzerland 34.3 percent.

In contrast, Cyprus (11.2 percent), Malta (10.9 percent), Slovenia (10.2 percent), Latvia (10 percent) and Lithuania (6.7 percent) have the lowest proportion of people born outside the EU reporting difficulties.

Lack of language skills

The lack of skills in the national language is most commonly cited as a hurdle, and it is even more problematic for women.

This issue was reported by 4.2 percent of men born in another EU country, 5.3 percent of those born in a developed country outside the EU and 9.7 percent of those from a non-EU country with a middle or low level of development. The corresponding shares for women, however, were 5.6, 6.7 and 10.5 percent respectively.

The countries where language skills were more likely to be reported by non-EU citizens as an obstacle in getting a relevant job were Finland (22.8 percent), Luxembourg (14.7 percent) and Sweden (13.1 percent).

As regards other countries covered by The Local, the percentage of non-EU citizens citing the language as a problem was 12.4 percent in Austria, 10.2 percent in Denmark, 7.8 percent in France, 5.1 percent in Italy, 2.7 percent in Spain, 11.1 percent on Norway and 10.1 percent in Switzerland. Data is not available for Germany.

Portugal (77.4 percent), Croatia (68.8 percent), Hungary (58.8 percent) and Spain (58.4 percent) have the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving, while more than 70 percent of non-EU citizens residing in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Norway said they had participated in language courses after arrival.

Lisbon Portugal

Portugal has the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving. (Photo by Aayush Gupta on Unsplash)

Recognition of qualifications

Another hurdle on the way to a relevant job in EU countries is the lack of recognition of a formal qualification obtained abroad. This issue was reported by 2 percent of men and 3.8 percent of women born in another EU country. It was also mentioned by 3.3 percent of men and 5.9 percent of women born in a developed country outside the EU, and 4.8 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Eurostat says this reflects an “unofficial distrust” among employers of qualification obtained abroad and the “low official validation of foreign education”.

The lack of availability of a suitable job was another factor mentioned in the survey. In Croatia, Portugal and Hungary, this was the main obstacle to getting an adequate position.

This issue concerned 3.3 percent of men and 4.5 percent of women born in another EU country, 4.2 percent of men and 5 percent of women born in a developed non-EU country It also worried 3.9 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Restricted right to work due to citizenship or residence permits, as well as plain discrimination on the grounds of origin were also cited as problems.

Discrimination was mostly reported by people born in a less developed non-EU country (3.1 percent for men and 3.3 percent for women) compared to people born in highly developed non-EU countries (1.9 percent for men and 2.2 percent for women).

Citizenship and residence permits issues are unusual for people from within the EU. For people from outside the EU, this is the only area where women seem to have fewer problems than men: 1.6 percent of women from developed non-EU countries reported this issue, against 2.1 percent of men, with the share increasing to 2.8 and 3.3 percent respectively for women and men from less developed non-EU states.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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