• Switzerland's news in English
Refugee crisis
‘We must help more’ says mayor who refused refugees
Children at a refugee camp in Greece. Photo: Sakis Mitrolidis

‘We must help more’ says mayor who refused refugees

The Local · 8 Jul 2016, 11:52

Published: 08 Jul 2016 11:52 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Back in May the residents of Oberwil-Lieli, one of the richest villages in Switzerland, voted to pay 290,000 francs a year to the canton rather than agree to shelter ten asylum seekers.

Glarner, the village mayor and MP for the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), was fully supportive of the decision, saying at the time that Swiss citizens had a duty to resist the pro-refugee dictates of the Swiss capital.

But on a visit to two migrant camps in Greece this week Glarner was left emotional on seeing the plight of refugees for the first time.

“It’s brutal to see that these people are living in sometimes inhuman conditions. We must do more than we have already to help refugees who are already in Europe,” he told daily Blick, saying that more money should be given to aid agencies helping on the ground.

Fine words, but also bold ones from a man who previously said Switzerland “must close all of its green borders with barbed wire”.  

Glarner was visiting the camps on the urging of Zurich-based novelist Andrea Fischer Schulthess, who challenged the politician to go and meet refugees for himself after his comments on asylum policy.

The poster-boy for the SVP’s hardline stance on asylum took time to talk to refugees and was well received by them, with one telling Blick “he’s not as bad as I thought”.

Observing the politician on his visit, Fischer Schulthess told Blick he was open and friendly with the refugees, particularly the children, “but as soon as they mentioned problems and requests, he shut down”.

It seems despite the emotion of the trip, Glarner hasn't changed his views.

“I am even more convinced that we must not let refugees come to Europe,” he told Blick, adding that taking them in only encourages more to come.

Instead, Switzerland should do more to improve conditions in camps in countries neighbouring the conflict zone, he said, so that refugees would be less likely to risk their lives trying to get to Europe.

Refugees would then be better placed to return to their country when peace comes, he said.

Story continues below…

“If I was a refugee, that’s what I would want to do.”

In March 2015 Switzerland agreed to take in 3,000 Syrian refugees over three years.

Of those, 1,500 will come through the European Union’s refugee relocation programme, aiming to move migrants from Italy and Greece, which Switzerland signed up to voluntarily.

Since 2011 the country has given 250 million francs in aid to help people in Syria as well as Syrian refugees in Jordan, Libya, Iraq and Turkey.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available