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Reception programs from Greece leave tens of thousands of protection seekers behind

26. April 2021

A contribution of the antira Wochenschau from 26.04.21

Several countries have ended their reception programmes from the precarious Greek camps that were promised at European level. In total, less than 4,000 people have been evacuated, 91 of them to Switzerland.

A year ago, several European countries pledged to take in people from the Greek camps. At that time, 40,000 refugees were in the camps waiting for a chance to leave the camps and find a perspective in Europe. Last week, the last plane of the German reception programme landed in Germany with 103 people on board. A total of 3,782 people were taken in from Greece by European countries, of which around 2,750 were taken in by Germany. With almost 250 cities willing to take in people, considerably more would have been possible. However, Interior Minister Seehofer continues to vehemently block the possibility of municipal admission. As a result, thousands of people seeking protection are still left behind in the camps.

Sadly, Germany nevertheless leads Europe with this low number of admissions. In addition to Germany, Portugal with 1,500 and France with 1,000 people had made a relatively generous pledge to take in people. So far, however, they have admitted only 81 (Portugal) and 576 (France) people respectively. By March 2021, only Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands had fulfilled their promised quotas – in total, however, the three states have admitted just 140 people.

The Federal Council’s “Report on the Activities of Switzerland’s Migration Foreign Policy 2020” states that a total of 71 unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (UMAs) with a family connection to Switzerland were admitted in accordance with the Dublin provisions, as well as another 20 UMAs after the fire in Moria in September 2020. A sad result for one of the richest countries in the world.

But the fact that it was due to the political will and not to a lack of financial means is shown by the expenses for the sealing-off. There was money, after all, for 1,500 days of Frontex operations, mostly on the land border between Greece and Turkey, and for the secondment of an expert to Frontex’s so-called “Fundamental Rights Office” from February to June 2021. The serious allegations of human rights violations by Frontex officials are mentioned in the report, but the Federal Council considers them to have been dealt with sufficiently, since there is an internal committee of enquiry. Nothing is to be expected from this committee. If one looks at Switzerland’s sealing-off goals, Frontex is doing its job very well from the point of view of the Swiss authorities anyway. They keep people away from European soil and thus also from Switzerland.