Swiss refugee centres reach bursting point

The large influx of refugees has filled accommodation centres to bursting point, obliging the Swiss authorities to distribute a greater number of asylum seekers to cantons to house.

Switzerland expects to see 22,000 asylum applications by the end of the year, which is nearly 50% more than 2021. The number of applications in the month of September is the largest since 2016.

In addition, the authorities expect to issue some 80,000 special S permits this year to people fleeing the Ukraine war.

The accommodation crunch is particularly severe in western and north-western Switzerland, despite 20 new shelters being erected by the army around the country, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) stated on Tuesday.

“Although more beds and accommodation have been made available and additional employees recruited in all regions, the situation remains very tense,” said SEM, adding that “there are hardly any free beds left”.

It is therefore necessary for cantons to temporarily take in up to 1,000 people per week, double the earlier limit of 500.

Rejected asylum seekers can no longer be guaranteed 140 days in federal asylum centres but people from Afghanistan and other countries with a high security risk, plus unaccompanied minors will continue to be housed in specialist accommodation.

Some cantons have been busy converting multi-purpose recreation halls into temporary accommodation in response to the crisis.

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