Amnesty International recently urged Switzerland to integrate migrants and help them relocate. Switzerland has a specific duty according to the human rights organization, to help migrants settle since it is not one of the main destinations for asylum seekers. According to recent reports Switzerland transfers most migrants to other European Union countries.
Amnesty International stated that a large number of deportations to Italy come from Switzerland. A total of 2,436 people were transferred to Italy, 1,196 came from Switzerland. The organization called on the Swiss government to show more solidarity to migrants. As part of the EU relocation programme Switzerland accepted only 112 asylum seekers from Italy.
The number of unaccompanied child migrants arriving on Swiss soil increased with more than 2,700 asking for asylum in 2015. Many of them do not have any identity cards and their age must be determined.
This has further burdened the Swiss authorities with another hurdle that of determining the age of unaccompanied child migrants. According to reports some of these children are subjected to questionable age tests.
Swiss authorities usually try to determine the age of these unaccompanied minors by analysing the development of the hand bones, but according to doctors and lawyers the practice is considered invasive and scientifically questionable.
Determining the age of unaccompanied minors is far from a trivial matter, according to the Hague Convention on the protection of children which Switzerland ratified in 1997, child migrants are expected to receive more protection than adults.
Many legal service providers for refugees believe that Switzerland is obliged to offer children a safe haven, including safe accommodation and education.
When a refugee is denied asylum in Switzerland he/she is expected to leave the country immediately, however many do not, this has created a hurdle for many cantons in the way they handle this precarious situation.
Recent reports indicate that some cantons have a more relaxed attitude, for example in the canton of Vaud, around 100 rejected asylum seekers have been camping for months.
According to Vaud cantonal officials, non-criminal asylum seekers are approached differently, they are provided with some financial aid and told to leave on their own. This method according to the canton is more effective and increases the chances of people leaving to their home countries.
Meanwhile many refugees in Switzerland who finally managed to get a stay permit are finding it difficult to find apprentices.
Eric Kaser deputy head of the integration department at the State Secretariat for Migration said that integration is essential, especially after the decision made by Swiss voters to limit immigration from Europe and prioritize the domestic labor market.
“In light of the vote we were asked to think about how we could more effectively and specifically take advantage of refugees’ labor market potential, alongside what is already underway,” Kaser said.
Kaser’s team found two hurdles for integration in the system; these include learning the language early enough, and accessing the labor market. He admitted that those two hurdles would take a while to resolve.
“It’s all about talking to the cantons, figuring out which programmes to adjust, and presenting a proposal for financing by the end of the year. It will be 2017 or 2018 at the earliest before instructors are hired and structures are created to match companies with refugee recruits,” he said.