Resistance to Asylum in Switzerland

“Resistance Rises to Asylum Seekers” by Ray Smith, for Inter Press Service:

Switzerland saw a 45 percent increase in asylum requests compared in 2011 to the year before. The country struggles to accommodate the new asylum seekers while efforts to put up new centres face fierce resistance by local people.

Shortly before Christmas a small number of asylum seekers were turned away at several asylum centres at the Swiss border. The events marked the peak of an anticipated shortage in host facilities for asylum seekers in the wake of the uprisings in North Africa.

From 2004 to 2010, between 10,000 and 16,000 asylum requests were filed each year. The uprising in Libya led to the re-opening of a key immigration route to Western Europe via Lampedusa in spring 2011. Latest statistics reveal a drastic increase in new asylum requests in Switzerland from 15,567 in 2010 to 22,551 in 2011…

Emil Grabherr, president of the local section of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) says that he radically opposes any asylum centre in Weggis, as the village is a regional tourist magnet. Grabherr lives 800 metres from the chosen building and heads a neighbourhood committee…

Speaking on behalf of ‘Asylnetz’, an organisation observing asylum-related human rights violations in Lucerne, Felix Kuhn points out that over and over, the same old foe images are projected on the new groups of asylum seekers…

Caritas’s Thomas Thali says that as long as political parties manage to profit from mobilisations against centres for asylum seekers, resistance will persist. “The image of asylum seekers is strongly influenced by the political debate and the media.” In contrast, Thali explains, where people have direct social exchange with asylum seekers, a relaxed atmosphere prevails.

Moreno Casasola, secretary general of the refugee rights organisation ‘Solidarité sans frontières’ regrets that doors are already slammed in the faces of asylum seekers before arrive. “Instead of having a serious discussion on hosting asylum seekers, things tend to turn into a openly racist debate,” he says, pointing to the village of Bettwil, where the locals’ protest had attracted far right-wing hanger-ons…

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One Response to Resistance to Asylum in Switzerland

  1. Pingback: Israel to become biggest jailer of refugees « The Diary of a Lost Soul

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