War in Ukraine – communities attacked because of refugees – now the federal government is reacting – News

War in Ukraine – communities attacked because of refugees – now the federal government is reacting – News


  • Swiss communities are coming closer and closer to their financial and organizational limitations in caring for many Ukrainian refugees.
  • The contributions the federal government pays to the municipalities are far from sufficient, says the vice-president of the Swiss Union of Municipalities.
  • The federal government now reacts: The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) wants to ask parliament for an additional loan of around one billion francs to improve care for refugees.

No municipality was prepared for this challenge: tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine arrived in Switzerland from mid-February. The Federal Council promised refugees quick and comprehensive assistance, access to the labor market and participation in Swiss society. However, communities need to keep these promises and are becoming increasingly overwhelmed, research by SRF Investigativ shows.

Why do communities bear the burden of integration

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Usually, refugees from Ukraine are first registered in the federal center and then distributed to the cantons. In turn, the cantons more or less evenly distribute war displaced persons among communities. From that moment on, care for the refugees rests with the municipal authorities. The municipalities are to deal with accommodation, German language courses, social assistance, advice, education for children, help in finding a job and other minor and major concerns of refugees. These tasks require a lot of human and financial resources.

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Jörg Kündig, vice-president of the Union of Swiss Municipalities and president of Gossau ZH, criticizes the SRF that the federal government has made too many promises in relation to the rapid integration of Ukrainians. “The goals were set too early and too clearly,” says Kündig, adding: “That’s the limit at the moment. Communities are on the verge of human resources. »Refugees need intensive care, but this pushes communities to the organizational and financial limits of what is possible.

Desperate refugees

Ukrainian refugees, for example Jelena and Yewa, whose real names are different, feel overwhelmed. Two women, who had not met each other before, were housed with two other Ukrainian women in a small apartment in the St. Gallen, they share a room and share a bed. In the SRF Hotspot podcast, Jelena and Yeva talk about how lost they feel in Switzerland, how desperate they are.

On the one hand, 375 francs of social assistance for asylum seekers who claim to receive monthly from the commune were not enough to finance the most necessary expenses. Even having enough food is difficult on this budget. In addition, Jelena and Yeva wanted the support that the federal government had actually promised.

Goals were set too early and too explicitly.

However, even after three months in Switzerland, the two women are still unable to attend a German language course and are looking for work completely alone.

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Although they both want to work as soon as possible, access to the unattended labor market is not very real. “I get sick without a job,” says Jelena with resignation. But even if they wanted to, many communities are unable to offer the help they need.

Not enough financial support from the federal government?

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Each community receives CHF 1,500 per month from the federal government for each refugee. There is also a one-time integration fee of CHF 3,000 per person. This is intended, among other things, for German language courses. However, this money is not enough, criticizes Jörg Kündig from the Association of Swiss Municipalities. Efforts to support communities, from enrolling children to German language courses, to help them integrate into the labor market, are very human and financial intensive. The municipal union is currently negotiating with the federal government on additional funding for the municipalities.

The federal government also saw problems. At the request of SRF Investigativ, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) says the Federal Council will ask parliament for an additional loan of around one billion francs. Exactly what the money is going to go to and whether the cantons and municipalities will benefit from it is still debated.

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