Switzerland insists on passports for earthquake refugees

Refugees from Turkey or Syria must carry identifying documents if they are seeking shelter in Switzerland from the devastation of last week’s earthquake.

More than 40,000 people were killed by a massive earthquake near to the border of Turkey and Syria. Millions are now displaced, many without shelter in freezing conditions, according to the United Nations Refugees Agency.

Switzerland has agreed to speed up the issuance of visas for Turkish and Syrian refugees. Some parliamentarians believe Switzerland should work even faster to provide refuge for earthquake victims.

The foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives has written to migration officials calling for other bureaucratic hurdles to be dismantled, including the need to present passports.

But in the interests of security, the authorities have drawn the line at accepting people who have no passport or other identity documents.

“We comply with the applicable law, which dictates that we must identify these people. The issue of security is particularly important here,” a State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) spokesperson told Swiss public broadcaster SRF.

SEM also pointed out that it would be difficult for people to leave Turkey or Syria without a passport.

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