Hundreds of vulnerable refugees have been told to wait for the chance to resettle in Switzerland after the Alpine state put a United Nations fast-track asylum process on hold.
Switzerland is struggling to cope with high numbers of refugee arrivals, including 70,000 people fleeing the Ukraine war.
With resources stretched to the limit, the Swiss migration office has suspended a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) program to resettle vulnerable people, reports the NZZ am Sonntag.
Switzerland had committed to taking in 1,820 such refugees by the end of 2023. So far, 640 have arrived in Switzerland and up to 400 others have started the application process.
These refugees are mainly women, children or people with health conditions, who are deemed especially vulnerable by the UNHCR. Most arrivals come from Afghanistan, Syria and Sudan.
The decision to freeze new arrivals has been met with criticism from left-leaning political parties and praise from those on the right.
A final decision will be made by Switzerland’s new Justice Minister, Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, who takes on the role at the start of 2023.