R.O. and her two children have lived in an asylum home in the small Swiss village of Hondrich in the canton of Bern since September 2016 after fleeing for their lives for the second time.
The first time was in 2015 when they left Syria to join R.O.’s former husband in northern Europe on family reunion grounds. She was granted asylum there.
A year later, however, she and her two children forced to flee to Switzerland, where she has family, to escape an abusive relationship with a man described as violent. She says that the marriage was difficult even in Syria but she had hoped the situation would be better in Europe. This was not the case.
On arrival in Switzerland, R.O. applied for asylum but was rejected. An appeal was then turned down after judges decided the family were not vulnerable and that they should be sent to a safe third country.
The northern European country where she had been granted asylum was ruled to be responsible for her.
“The situation is dramatic,” a person from Hondrich close to the woman affected told Switzerland’s Der Bund newspaper. That person said R.O. was “well integrated” and was hoping to work in Switzerland so she wouldn’t have to rely on government handouts.
Her children, currently happily attending the local school, were described as well brought/up.
However, the family are all traumatised and in psychological treatment, doctors have said.
Now R.O.’s sister, her doctor and school authorities have handed in letters to the authorities in a bid to have the decision to send the family back to northern Europe overturned.
Families in Hondrich also put together a dossier for Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga with facts on the case and containing a petition with 89 signatures. In a symbolic gesture, children able to write also signed the document.
“We want the authorities to examine this case closely,” one local who asked not to be named told regional daily the Thuner Tagblatt.
“The decision could be judicially sound but at a human level it is an absolute catastrophe,” R.O.’s friend told Der Bund.