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UKRAINE

What criteria must I meet to host refugees at my home in Switzerland?

Want to offer part of your home to refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine? There are four criteria you must satisfy.

A refugees welcome sign in Germany. Photo: PATRICK SEEGER / DPA / AFP
A refugees welcome sign in Germany. Photo: PATRICK SEEGER / DPA / AFP

On Friday, March 11th, Switzerland unveiled a special protection visa status for people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, allowing people to live, work and study for at least one year in Switzerland. 

Switzerland’s special visa program: What Ukrainians need to know

Switzerland’s plan to take in Ukrainian refugees relies on a combination of public, i.e. hostels and shelters, and private accommodation. 

How can I host Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland? 

Anyone wanting to host refugees can do so by registering on the following link. 

This registration is not a requirement of hosting, however it can link you with refugees arriving in Switzerland or those currently staying in federal accommodation. 

In order to be a suitable host, you must satisfy the following criteria, according to Swiss Refugee Aid and the official advice from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

The accommodation must be free

While it might sound self explanatory, anyone housing Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland must not accept any payment. 

This is due to Switzerland’s strict tourism registration rules, which require people to register any paid/commercial arrivals staying with them at home with cantonal authorities. 

All hotels and hostels must comply with this requirement (depending on cantonal rules), along with Airbnb hosts. 

As noted expressly by the SEM “If the guest is charged for their accommodation, their arrival must be registered with the competent cantonal authority.”

The federal government has also expressly said it will not compensate anyone for hosting refugees, although the cantons are free to establish a compensation scheme. 

Time

While there is no minimum period suggested by the Swiss government for hosting refugees, potential hosts are recommended to expect at least three months to allow a person or a family to establish themselves in a new country. 

Switzerland’s S permits are issued for a minimum of one year.

Swiss Refugee Aid also says anyone wanting to host refugees should have enough time in their personal schedule to help them out in everyday life, such as with navigating the famous Swiss bureaucracy. 

Space

While people fleeing conflict no doubt appreciate the generosity of those offering a mattress on the floor or a couch, those wanting to host long term should have enough space so that those hosted are comfortable. 

Swiss Refugee Aid recommends a separate room or rooms, along with access to the bathroom and kitchen. 

Also keep in mind the recommended time period laid out above. 

Privacy

Another recommendation is that those hosted have enough privacy, meaning that a separate room or rooms would be appropriate. 

READ MORE: Why some Swiss Covid sceptics are now supporting Russia’s invasion

In discussing the criteria, Switzerland’s Watson news outlet reiterates that many of those who arrive in Switzerland will have been through traumatic experiences and will therefore benefit from a place of retreat. 

Swiss Refugee Aid has emphasised the need for a stable environment for anyone fleeing a conflict situation. 

More information, including a range of FAQs, is laid out on the following Swiss government page. 

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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