Update: 17.02.2011

Emergency aid in Switzerland: «Scared away, but still here»

At the beginning of February, Amnesty International Switzerland, the Swiss Refugee Council (SFH), «Solidarité sans frontières», and the Swiss Supervisory Board for Asylum and Aliens Law (Schweizerische Beobachtungsstelle für Asyl- und Ausländerrecht) launched their joint campaign «Emergency aid: a dead end for all» to sensitise the general public to social injustice in the emergency aid system.

Dead end for all

Those responsible for the campaign criticise that, although the Federal Constitution guarantees a humane life to all people in distress, it is exactly this emergency aid which systematically infringes the human dignity of the asylum seekers, because the aim of the emergency aid is to repatriate rejected applicants as quickly as possible. The fact that the people affected have to live off a maximum financial support of CHF 4.30 to 12.00 leads them into a deep social isolation.

Some of the applicants have to live under these conditions for months or even years since they can not or do not want to leave Switzerland, and so the emergency aid is a dead end for all. On the one hand, the applicants stand no chance of escaping the inhumane system, on the other hand the authorities fail in motivating rejected asylum seekers to leave the country. Instead high costs are generated at the expense of human rights. The joint campaign therefore urges the authorities not to further tighten their measures but to fundamentally reconsider and reassess the failed system in the emergency aid sector.

In an online petition within the framework of the campaign, the responsible Federal Councillor and cantonal authorities are invited to quickly take the necessary steps to these resolve these deficits.

Film on social reality

With the support of Solidarité sans frontières, the media collective «a-films» shot a 25-minute documentary on the life of three «sans-papiers» in Switzerland.

It shows an unflattering picture of the everyday reality under the emergency aid regime and underscores that the measures adopted therein have failed in discouraging potential applicants as well as in motivating rejected asylum seekers to leave the country. The prospective of a humiliating and inhumane life in Switzerland does not lead to an increased quota of persons returning to their countries of origin. Somehow, they live at the fringe of society as illegal alien in precarious living conditions. The fates of these three illustrate the hopeless situation of people living off emergency aid, and they show that the emergency aid situation in Switzerland considerably denies rejected applicants fundamental human rights.

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