Assets seized from refugees to pay for aid in Switzerland

Refugees arriving in Switzerland have to turn over to the state any assets worth more than €900 to help pay for their upkeep, broadcaster SRF reported, revealing a practice that has drawn sharp rebukes for Denmark.

SRF’s 10 vor 10 news programme showed a receipt a refugee from Syria said he got from authorities when he had to turn over more than half of the cash his family had left after paying traffickers to help them get to the neutral Alpine country.

It also showed an information sheet for refugees that states: “If you have property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs when you arrive at a reception centre you are required to give up these financial assets in return for a receipt.”

It cited Stefan Frey from refugee aid group Schweizerische Fluechtlingshilfe as saying: “This has to change.”

SRF cited the state migration authority SEM as justifying the measure, noting the law calls for asylum seekers and refugees to contribute where possible to the cost of processing their applications and providing social assistance.

“If someone leaves voluntarily within seven months, this person can get the money back and take it with them. Otherwise the money covers costs they generate,” an SEM spokeswoman told SRF.


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