Press release by Evacuate NOW of 18.12.20
While the living conditions in the new refugee camp on the island of Lesvos are deteriorating (freezing temperatures, no heating, no showers, flooding, tents without flooring, etc.) and human rights violations by police and border guards are occurring almost daily, Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter announces at Christmas that she wants to bring 37 unaccompanied minors to Switzerland. This announcement is a communicative manoeuvre intended to conceal the government’s inaction so far.
17 of the communicated minors who are to be admitted have a family connection to Switzerland. The Confederation is legally obliged to act here anyway. The 20 remaining adolescents and children are the number whose admission Federal Councillor Keller-Sutter announced back in September. To date, they have apparently not entered Switzerland. The Minister of Justice is therefore merely reopening in the media a long overdue omission.
While we welcome the fact that 37 minors are getting out of this hell on the Greek islands, we regret that the Federal Council continues to ignore the dramatic situation and shows no political will to provide serious help. As a reminder: during the Kosovo war, Switzerland took in 53,000 refugees in one year; during the Hungarian crisis in the 1950s, the figure was around 13,000. Figures that are miles away from the 37 young people announced.
In the face of this criminal inaction by government and authorities, civil society is stepping up its pressure. In addition to the 50,000 people and 140 organisations that have supported the call to “Evacuate NOW”, 25 towns and villages have now agreed to take in refugees. Churches and parishes are also making their own structures available to facilitate the reception. Such offers of help land every week on the desk of Ms Karin Keller-Sutter, who continues to turn a deaf ear.
After five years, Greece and the EU have still not managed to create humane conditions in the camps on the Greek islands. As a member of the Schengen area, Switzerland benefits from the Dublin system and is therefore partly responsible for the disastrous conditions at the EU’s external borders. The border protection agency Frontex, which is co-financed by Switzerland, has also recently been proven to have committed massive human rights violations against refugees in the Greek island region. Switzerland’s participation in Frontex therefore undermines the credibility of our country’s serious humanitarian commitment. With the onset of winter and the second wave of the coronavirus, the Swiss government and authorities must urgently fulfil their obligations and take the following measures:
There is only one viable solution to the situation on Lesbos, Samos and the other Greek islands: evacuate NOW. Switzerland can and must make a bigger contribution!