Switzerland opens doors to refugees from Greece

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Switzerland opens doors to refugees from Greece
Asylum seekers bags. File photo: AFP Fabrice Coffrini

For the first time Syrian asylum seekers from Greece are to be admitted to Switzerland under the European Union Relocation Programme.


The 30 Syrians are mainly people affected by the long-running conflict in their homeland, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

The Swiss government took a decision in autumn 2015 to voluntarily join the EU programme that distributes refugees from Italy and Greece to other European countries.

Switzerland has now said it is willing to accept the first contingent of Syrians from Greece, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) told the agency.

Switzerland has agreed to accept 900 asylum seekers from Italy and 600 from Greece under the programme. So far applications for 460 people have been accepted, said SEM head of information, Giery Cavelty.

Cavelty said 120 people had already arrived in Switzerland, and more would be arriving in the coming weeks and months.

The new arrivals have to go through the standard asylum application process once they are in Switzerland.

The arrival of the asylum seekers from Greece was delayed because the EU had refused to pay the relocation costs, Cavelty said. Switzerland is now covering these itself.

In spring 2015 the Swiss government agreed to take in 3,000 people from the Syrian conflict areas. The 1,500 asylum seekers covered by the EU Relocation Programme comprise half of that total.




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