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( Switzerland hopes for fewer refugees

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Switzerland hopes for fewer refugees

Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a peace treaty. This awakens Swiss politicians hopes for less Eritrean refugees.

Posted on 11.07.2018 | Updated at 19:38

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Eritrean President Issaias Afwerki hug after signing the peace treaty.  SOCIAL MEDIA 

On Monday, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (41) and Eritrean's President Issaias Afwerki (72) signed a peace agreement between the two states. Although the war was officially ended in 2000, the countries were in a warlike condition. This is about to change: From now on there is a direct telephone line, and there are again planes flying between countries.

But what does that mean for Switzerland? Are there now fewer Eritreans, the largest refugee group in years, coming here?

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) shows a cautious attitude. "It is too early for the SEM to express itself - be it on the content of the treaty or on its possible future impact on the number of Eritrean asylum seekers in Switzerland," says spokesman Martin Reichlin.

SP-Feri hopes for a shorter national service

In politics, however, development gives rise to hope. "It would be nice if thanks to the peace treaty fewer people would leave the country," said SP National Councilor Yvonne Feri (52, AG). "Instead of adapting the policy of asylum with Eritrea again, Switzerland should better try to participate in Eritrea locally, among other things, in building a democracy and creating jobs."

The main reason for the flight of many Eritreans is the national service. In Eritrea, this is a kind of military service, which theoretically has to be done for 18 months, practically but indefinitely. Feri expresses the hope that ending the conflict with Ethiopia "will also make the national service more flexible and shorter, and so fewer young people will flee from Eritrea".

FDP-Fluri advocates readmission agreements

SVP National Councilor Heinz Brand (62, GR) goes further: "Peace can make Eritreans in Switzerland want to return to Eritrea." But until it feels like that, it will still take a while. But he makes it clear: "Eritreans fleeing civil war-like conditions can no longer give that justification as an asylum reason."

Confident shows FDP National Council Kurt Fluri (62, SO). If the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea is preserved, it is to be hoped that the domestic climate in Eritrea will defuse and the human rights situation will improve, says the Solothurnian. "In this case, it can be assumed that of the 30,000 or so Eritreans in our country, a large proportion can be turned back to their country of origin. And finally, a readmission agreement must still be sought. »

The politicians agree, however, that the effects of peace in Switzerland will not be immediately felt.

Fewer asylum applications

For the time being, the contract does not change anything about the specific asylum practice. However, the Eritrea problem is currently not pressing for Switzerland either: the number of Eritrean asylum seekers in this country has fallen sharply.

In the record year 2015, around 10'000 out of a total of over 40'000 asylum applications came from Eritreans. In the current year, only 1375 out of 6574 asylum applications came from Eritrea.

Posted on 11.07.2018 | Updated at 19:38
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