The implementation and value of protection status S, a permit that has been granted to people fleeing the war in Ukraine, must be evaluated quickly, says Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Keller-Sutter said she does not want to wait two years for the first assessments “as with Covid”.
Protection status S was created following the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s, but it was never used until now. It allows refugees to live and work in Switzerland for a year with an option to extend if necessary.
“We must learn from the first experiences quickly,” Keller-Sutter said.
The evaluation group has a mandate to study how protection status S is being implemented and whether it has proved its worth in providing the necessary protection to people fleeing war.
It will also have to look at the impact on the normal asylum system. Protection status S was created outside the normal asylum system in order to prevent it from collapsing in the face of a massive influx.
The group will assess the coordination with the EU, the cantons and the municipalities and of possible returns to Ukraine. Keller-Sutter said she wants to see a first interim report before Christmas. The working group will begin hearings with the parties concerned in August. A final report will be presented at the end of June 2023.
Applications for S permits are currently declining, Keller-Sutter said. According to figures published on Thursday by the State Secretariat for Migration, 58,847 Ukrainians have submitted an application in Switzerland and 56,908 have been granted protection status.
The situation has eased since June, “but we don’t know how the war will develop”, Keller-Sutter said. “If the situation worsens, Western European countries must prepare for a significant influx. If the situation improves, returns will be possible.”