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«Open letter on the situation of refugees in Greece»

Offener Brief
Level: Canton
Canton: NW
Status: Rejected


Around 50 people have signed an open letter to the Nidwalden government. They call on the canton to take action:

“We call on the government of Nidwalden to…

  • to signal to the federal government that the canton of Nidwalden is willing to take in refugees from the overcrowded camps in Greece.
  • to clarify and communicate how many refugees the canton of Nidwalden can take in and care for in a humane manner in the canton.”

    Open letter on the situation of refugees in Greece, Stans in June 2020

In its reply, the canton refuses to take action.

The issue is already being dealt with at the federal level, which makes a demand on the part of the canton superfluous. Moreover, the canton of Nidwalden already takes in the 0.5% of asylum seekers in Switzerland who are allocated according to quota. The canton will again take in eight vulnerable persons in the coming year.


The initiators are not satisfied with this answer.

On 18 August 20 they again addressed a statement to the Government Council of the Canton of Nidwalden:

“We are convinced that the canton of Nidwalden can also make a difference in this situation. And since you unfortunately did not answer our question posed in the open letter, we ask again.

How many refugees can be accommodated in the canton of Nidwalden? In addition, the government council should differentiate between the number under the special provisions due to COVID-19 and the normal situation.

Furthermore, we again call for this figure to be passed on to the federal government, or rather to the SEM.”

Statement on the response letter of the Government Council on the situation of refugees in Greece, Stans in August 2020


At the end of September, the Nidwalden cantonal government again expressed its opposition.

Two of the arguments are already known: Switzerland has already taken in 20 minors. The most important thing is help on the ground.

A new addition is the adoption of the racist argumentation of the Greek government. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had made it clear directly after the fire at the Moria camp on the night of 9 September 2020 that he did not want people to leave the island. That would send “wrong signals” in this “refugee crisis”. The government would “not be blackmailed”. The arson, which the authorities were quick to attribute to the refugees, should not become a model for other camps to “force” an evacuation (cf. media reports). An image of the refugees as criminal, dangerous and ungrateful was painted in a racist way, trying to justify their inhumane treatment.

Othmar Filliger, CVP, writes on behalf of the government council: “A rapid admission of refugees to other European states would possibly lead to individuals deliberately worsening the situation in other refugee camps in order to force further admissions. This would pose an immense danger to all refugees.”

The newly established camp on Lesbos can be described as an immense danger. The conditions are on a par with those in the burnt-down Moria camp. It was built in a very short time from tents without a floor on a former military site where soldiers were still searching for mines when people had already arrived. It is suspected that this former firing range is highly contaminated with lead. Once a day there is a meal for the refugees. There is never electricity, and water, toilets and showers are almost non-existent. The so-called quarantine station is a section of beach separated from the rest of the closed camp by barbed wire (vgl. NGO-Bericht).

“>see NGO report).

This answer, too, remains unapologetic for all those who are committed to upholding human rights, which are being massively violated on the Greek islands.



Press reports

Appell zur Aufnahme griechischer Flüchtlinge im Kanton Nidwalden Rund 50 Personen haben einen offenen Brief an die Nidwaldner Regierung unterzeichnet. Sie fordern den Kanton zum Handeln auf.