Rising tensions spark rise in violence at asylum centres

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Rising tensions spark rise in violence at asylum centres
Bags at a refugee centre in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Frustrations are spilling over in refugee centres in Switzerland causing an increasing number of confrontations between residents, according to figures reported by the Sunday papers.


During the first quarter of 2016 security guards had to deal with twice the amount of violent situations as in previous quarters, said SonntagsZeitung, quoting an internal report from the Swiss federal migration office (SEM).

In most cases, security guards were able to diffuse the situation, and the police were called in only 77 out of 240 incidents, reported news agencies.

For the SEM, the rise in tensions in asylum centres is linked to the fact that fewer migrants arrived in 2015.

As a result, there was no pressing need to make room in centres by moving some asylum seekers to accommodation elsewhere, meaning people stayed longer in one place and tensions rose.

“With time, consideration towards others decreases,” said a spokesman for the SEM quoted by news agencies.

Frustrations also arise among those who become aware they have little chance of obtaining asylum, said Constantin Hruschka of the Swiss Refugee Council.

Since the beginning of the year, the SEM has increased security provision at refugee centres including those in Altstätten and Kreuzlingen.

But that’s not enough, according to the SRC.

“Instead of concentrating on security services it would be better to invest more in care,” Hruschka told SonntagsZeitung.

One issue could be that some refugees do not have enough to do. While the SEM stipulates that asylum seekers should be kept occupied with activities such as language courses for at least four hours a day, many centres are not reaching these targets.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to take a job in the first three months after applying for asylum, which can be extended to six months.

After this period applicants can look for temporary gainful employment, if the labour market allows it. Jobs may be limited to certain sectors.

Last week one man died and another was left seriously injured after they were stabbed at an underground asylum centre in the canton of Aargau.

The two victims and the perpetrator were all Iranian refugees living at the same centre.



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