• Switzerland's news in English
Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests
Seelisberg sits on the shore of Lake Lucerne near the historic Rütli meadow. Photo: Vasile Cotovanu

Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests

The Local · 17 Aug 2016, 12:29

Published: 17 Aug 2016 12:29 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The canton had planned to transform the empty Löwen hotel into a centre capable of accommodating 60 asylum seekers in the village.

But on Tuesday the Uri government announced a u-turn, saying in a statement that for the moment the canton had enough places to meet the needs of its asylum seekers, since it had been assigned fewer than previously forecast.

The plan had incensed the population of Seelisberg – a village near the historic Rütli meadow where Switzerland is thought to have been founded – who felt it should not have been presented as a fait accompli, reported news agencies.

It also objected to the number of refugees planned for the centre, saying 60 was too many in a commune of just 700 people.

Feelings ran high at a public meeting in early August, attended by more than half the village, which ended early after many people walked out in protest at the plans.

During the meeting insults were thrown at Uri social affairs minister Barbara Bär.

She later made a complaint to police after it was suggested her husband was connected to an estate agency involved in the plan, reported news agencies.  

The president of the commune Karl Huser-Huong said it was the manner in which the plan was presented that riled the village, reported Le Temps on Tuesday.

“We are ready to take on our responsibilities and welcome refugees. But not in these conditions. We were given a fait accompli. The canton should negotiate with the population,” he said.

The situation shows the difficulty some cantons have in meeting their obligations, conferred by the federal government, to house a share of the country’s refugees.

The Swiss government allocates asylum seekers to cantons according to population size. As such, Uri is obliged to accommodate 0.5 percent, one of the lowest figures in the country.

The canton of Zurich must take 17 percent, while Bern is allocated 13.5 percent and Geneva 5.6 percent.

Story continues below…

Some communes have been fined after they refused to house their share, including Obwerwil-Lieli in the canton of Aargau, which paid 290,000 francs instead of taking nine refugees.

The decision divided the community, which last month revised its stance and agreed to take five refugees, said Le Temps.

In its statement on Tuesday, the Uri government said it now wanted to “restore confidence” among the Seelisberg villagers and will call a round table with an external mediator to deal with the issue.

The aim is to develop “constructive discussions” to find a solution by “common consent” to the question of housing for asylum seekers should their numbers rise, it said.

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