Or is this just a covert way of discouraging Muslims from settling there? Switzerland says it will introduce legislation which will force refugees to hand over cash and valuables to the authorities to help pay for their upkeep. The move by the Swiss follows a similar plan implemented by Denmark.
The Guardian Muslim bound for Switzerland may be in for an unexpected surprise. Those crossing the border must surrender to the state any assets worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs – that is 914 euros – as a contribution towards their upkeep.
Refugees arriving in Switzerland have to turn over to the state any assets worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs (£690) to help pay for their upkeep, the broadcaster SRF has reported.
SRF’s 10 vor 10 news programme showed a receipt a Syrian refugee said he received from authorities when he had to turn over more than half the cash his family had left after paying traffickers to help them get to the neutral Alpine country.
It also showed an information sheet for refugees that stated: “If you have property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs when you arrive at a reception centre you are required to give up these financial assets in return for a receipt.”
Stefan Frey, from refugee aid group Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe, was quoted as saying: “This is undignified … This has to change.”
Swiss authorities rejected criticism of the practice, saying it was based on a decades-old law and only applied in a fraction of cases. Authorities also noted that the law called for asylum seekers and refugees to contribute where possible to the cost of processing their applications and providing social assistance.
According to the Swiss state secretariat for migration (SEM), the rule affected just 112 out of 45,000 refugees last year. An SEM spokeswoman told SRF: “If someone leaves voluntarily within seven months this person can get the money back and take it with them. Otherwise the money covers costs they generate.”
The SEM also said that jewellery and personal items were not taken from the refugees. According to the SRF report, refugees who win the right to stay and work in Switzerland also have to surrender 10% of their pay for up to 10 years until they repay 15,000 Swiss francs in costs.