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Central Switzerland municipalities to become safe harbours

SEEBRÜCKE Switzerland has taken the occasion of the action “beim Namen nennen” on 19 June 2021 in Lucerne to write to all 156 municipalities in Central Switzerland that have not yet taken a public position. The municipalities of Kriens and Lucerne have already sent a political signal against the inhumane asylum policy.

The letter was addressed to the respective municipal administration and asks them to declare their solidarity with people fleeing as a first step. This public declaration of solidarity can be followed by further concrete steps for action, such as addressing the concrete demand for additional admission of refugees to the federal government.

These are the responses from the municipalities in Central Switzerland:

Canton Nidwalden

  • The municipality of Ennetbürgen states that it has no “capacity for the rapid and uncomplicated reception and accommodation of people rescued from distress at sea” and refers to the cantonal responsibility.
  • The Stansstad municipal council is of the opinion that there are already competent authorities and capacities in this area at federal and cantonal level. In addition, the municipality does not have the human and financial resources to comply with the request and rejects it.
  • The municipality of Stans rejects the application with reference to its responsibilities and the lack of human resources to care for admitted persons.
  • Dallenwil does not address the request in its response. The municipal council rejects the payment of a municipal contribution to Seebrücke.
  • The municipality of Emmetten states that it is unable to meet the request due to the municipality’s lack of competence.
  • The municipality of Wolfenschiessen refers to the canton. It could not answer the question.
  • The municipality of Ennetmoos considers it neither appropriate nor legitimate for the municipality council of Ennetmoos to comment directly on national issues or even to accept refugees in disregard of its competencies.

Canton of Lucerne

  • The municipality of Escholzmatt-Marbach rejects the declaration of solidarity because it is “associated with numerous conditions and obligations” and thus with “an unknown organisational and financial burden”.
  • “The Entlebuch municipal council refrains from making a public declaration of solidarity as a safe harbour”. It does not state any further reasons.
  • Grosswangen Municipal Council does not support this safe harbour motion”. It does not state any further reasons.
  • The Neuenkirch commune rejects the campaign “in line with the position of the Canton of Lucerne”.
  • The Werthenstein municipal council “has decided to reject [the] request”. It does not state any further reasons.
  • The municipality of Sempach rejects the application because “the resulting conditions and obligations […] cannot be borne”. The municipality acknowledges the concern of Seebrücke Schweiz in principle and is committed “with a one-time solidarity contribution of CHF 1,000”.
  • The municipality of Rothenburg refers in its answer only to the financial aspect of the request and refuses to support the movement.
  • The municipality of Eich has decided “not to participate”.
  • The municipality of Sursee points out that it already looks after considerably more refugees than the neighboring municipalities. Therefore, it cannot make any further commitments. There are numerous offers in the municipality for the persons in need of care.
  • The municipality of Romoos rejects the request: “As terrible as the fact is that people have to die in the Mediterranean every day, the possibilities of a small Entlebuch municipality are very limited. The municipality council does not see any possibilities to intervene. It also does not consider the effect of a signal to the federal government to be effective and therefore refrains from doing so.”
  • The municipality of Udligenswil does not respond to the request and refers to its existing commitment.
  • The municipality of Ruswil sees our request primarily as a request for financial support, which it rejects. It sees the responsibility with the federal government.
  • The local council of Nottwil “would like to refrain from taking a clear position and not adopt an opposition stance against Switzerland’s migration policy.”
  • The municipality of Dierikon refers to “tax losses of over 30%” in recent years. Since the municipality council was instructed to “take radical savings measures and to review all expenditures for their necessity”, “the declaration of solidarity and the active support of the sea rescue” is waived.
  • The municipality of Hasle rejects the request without explanation.

Canton Uri

  • The municipality of Sisikon states that it “has no political orientation in the municipal council” and therefore does not want to take a position. The municipality is also unable to support the campaign due to its size and financial situation.
  • The municipality of Erstfeld rejects the campaign with reference to the SEM’s responsibility.
  • The municipality of Flüelen does not consider itself responsible either, but refers to the responsibility of the canton of Uri.
  • Spiringen refuses to “express itself on political issues of national or even international importance”.
  • Bürglen has “no interest” in becoming a Safe Harbour, as the municipality adheres to cantonal regulations.
  • The municipality of Gurtnellen does not respond to the request and refers to the canton.
  • The municipality of Seedorf rejects the application. It refers to the responsibility of the canton, which coordinates with the municipalities.
  • The municipality of Seelisberg considers the federal government and the canton to be responsible and does not want to “take an oppositional stance towards Swiss migration policy”.

Canton Zug

  • The municipality of Oberägeri states that it is already “regularly involved in various projects at home and abroad” and therefore sees no need for further action.
  • The municipality of Baar “recognizes the humanitarian emergency and and annually supports various organizations at home and abroad to protect and care for people in need.” However, the request of the Seebrücke is rejected.
  • The municipality of Hünenberg sees the “asylum and refugee policy as a national, even international task”. It rejects an admission of refugees beyond the existing regulation.
  • The municipality of Cham rejects the request, but states to have space to take in people in the future.
  • The municipality of Walchwil does not want to make any commitments that “go beyond the municipal competences and are not possible in this way without the approval of the federal government”.

Canton Schwyz

  • The municipality of Altendorf wants to stick to the existing system and not become active.
  • The municipality of Steinen sees its commitment primarily in the integration of persons allocated to them by the federal government.
  • The municipality of Lauerz sees itself as a “small rural municipality […] extraordinarily limited, especially in the area of housing” and therefore rejects the safe haven declaration.
  • The municipality of Arth would like this concern to be addressed to the federal government or the canton and for them to then find uniform solutions together with the municipalities.
  • The municipality of Morschach refrains from becoming active, as it already “fulfilling its duties within the framework of the cantonal requirements”.
  • The municipality of Schwyz declines to support the campaign with kind words: “We declare our solidarity with the goals of Seebrücke Schweiz by opposing the criminalisation of sea rescue on the Mediterranean.” However, he said, one does not have sufficient resources to take in more people fleeing.
  • The municipality of Innerthal considers the request of the Seebrücke “not relevant” due to its size.
  • The municipality of Sattel refers to its existing commitment: “It is important to the municipal council that asylum seekers experience the best possible economic and social integration. The municipality council will gladly continue to actively support this in the future – however, it refrains from making an official declaration as a Safe Harbour.”
  • The municipality of Oberiberg complains that refugees cared for in the municipality often leave it after receiving a residence permit, which “regularly [causes] unnecessary costs and effort for the municipality. With the money spent so unnecessarily, one could certainly help other needy persons […].” With reference to the responsibility of the federal government, the municipality rejects the request.
  • The municipality of Gersau answers that it will not take a position or get involved in our concern. The responsibility lies with the federal government.
  • The municipality of Ingenbohl rejects the safe haven application without justification.

We will add additional answers here as soon as we have received the feedback from the municipalities.
We are still in contact with respective administrations.