Authorities in the Swiss canton of Lucerne have defended their decision to place newly arrived Ukrainian refugees in underground civil protection bunkers, along with large halls.
Silvia Bolliger, head of the asylum and refugee service, told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes the collective accommodation allows the refugees to make connections “with people who speak the same language as them and who have shared experiences”.
Bolliger said those fleeing conflict benefited from a sense of community, which they may not receive if they were housed in private accommodation where they did not have direct contact to other Ukrainians and where they
However, the Ukrainian government issued a statement expressing its displeasure with this type of accommodation.
Tetiana Lomakina, who is responsible for setting up humanitarian corridors for Ukrainian refugees, complained that mass housing of this kind should be scrapped in favour of accommodations in private households.
Lomakina thanked Switzerland and the Swiss people for their generosity in housing Ukrainians and Ukrainian residents fleeing conflict, but said the underground accommodations was likely to remind many of the bunkers and air raid shelters where they attempted to avoid Russian bombardment.
“In this way, our citizens can feel safe and recover from the horrors of war, often marked by long days and nights spent in air raid shelters where they feared for their lives”, Lomakina pointed out.
As of April 20th, about 36,000 people who fled Ukraine have arrived in Switzerland; 29,203 of them already obtained protection status S, according to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).