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A home not just a house Rise in families taking in asylum seekers

Many asylum seekers are accommodated in special centres 

Many asylum seekers are accommodated in special centres 

(Keystone)

A project to house asylum seekers and refugees with Swiss families has been deemed a success, with 234 people living with host families and 22 cantons taking part – up from just four cantons two years ago.

The first people were housed under the Guest Families schemeexternal link, run by the Swiss Refugee Councilexternal link (SRC), in March 2015. Two years later 234 people are living in host families, according to a survey of cantons done by the SonntagsBlickexternal link.

There are now 22 cantons – out of 26 – taking part. However, eight still have no asylum seekers living with a host family.

“Every placement needs in-depth clarifications for it to really take place,” Julia Vielle, the project’s leader at the Swiss Refugee Council, told the newspaper.  “Unfortunately some cantons do not allocate this enough resources.”

The start was a bit difficult, due to administration issues and regulations, for example that each asylum seeker had to have a separate wash room, she continued. This condition is no longer applies.

Vielle is nevertheless pleased about the number of cantons taking part and believes that in time “more refugees will be placed with private households.”

Some examples

SonntagsBlick profiled a couple from Muri near Bern who have taken in two young men from Somalia and Eritrea. The couple wanted to help after seeing reports about refugees on the television.

The beginning was hard as everything was new, the couple explained, but they believe that the young men have integrated better by living with a family. German is always spoken.

swissinfo.ch also visited a family from near Morges that had taken in an Eritrean man shortly after the scheme launched in 2015. Morad, then 24, had fled his country, making a dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean. He had reached Switzerland and was living in limbo as an asylum seeker. He said he could not believe it when he was told he could live with a Swiss family. He was accepted into the family with open arms.

“We believe that the best way to integrate someone into a complex society like Switzerland is to bring people as close as possible to those who are already adapted,” said SRC spokesman Stefan Frey at the time.

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