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Swiss village cheesed off with refugees

10 June 20160 comments

A small Swiss village, home to some one of the wealthiest in people in Europe, has refused
to take in its government imposed quota of asylum seekers, opting instead to pay a fine of $400,000 instead.

Swiss villageThe residents of Oberwil-Lieli, where there are 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200, voted “no” in a referendum over whether to accept just ten refugees.

Swiss government proposals had outlined a quota across its 26 counties in order deliver on promise to take 50,000 asylum seekers across the country, but Oberwil-Lieli voted by 52 per cent to 48 to reject the refugees.

One resident of the village told media: “We do not want them here it is as simple as that.”

“We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want it spoiled. We are not suited to take in refugees. They would not fit in here,” the resident said.

Amnesty International has called on the western countries to take on their fair share of refugees.

A spokesman said: “Just as it’s wrong for richer countries to keep leaving it to poorer countries to host the vast proportion of the world’s growing refugee population, so more wealthy communities need to share responsibility with the less affluent.

“This is as true in Switzerland and the UK as it is in countries like Lebanon, which are currently hosting very many more refugees than European countries. We all need to play our part or the current crisis will keep getting worse,” the spokesman said.

Andreas Glarner, Oberwil-Lieli’s right wing mayor, denied that by refusing to accept refugees they were being racist.

“We were not to be told if the ten were from Syria or if they are economic migrants from other countries,” he said.

“Yes, the refugees from Syria have to be helped and they are better served by being helped in the camps nearer their home.

“Money could be sent to help them, but if we are housing them here it sends out the wrong message. Others will come and risk their lives crossing the ocean and paying people smugglers to bring them.

“They are not likely to be able to speak the language and if some of the refugees have children they will have to go into the local school where they will need special focus,” Mr Glarner said

In April 2016 there were 1,748 applications for asylum in Switzerland compared to 1,376 for the same month the previous year.

The Swiss Government has pledged to resettle 3,000 Syrian families fleeing ISIS and the civil war in the country.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist