Welcome mat ; Syrian refugees move into Swiss households

swissinfo.ch and agencies
February 5, 2014 – 17:16

Syrian refugees have been welcomed into homes in cantons Basel City and Aargau for the first time, a move that could soon follow in other parts of the country, according to the Swiss Refugee Council.

The council made a public appeal last October to homeowners, and so far around 100 people have responded. They come from all walks of life, according to the council’s spokesman Stefan Frey.

“We have not settled on a specific profile for volunteers. We are lacking in experience, but we are letting ourselves be guided by common sense,” he said. “Each case is considered individually.”

The authorities in cantons Bern, Lucerne and Zurich are also looking for volunteers so that refugees can also be placed on their territory.

Improving access

Moves are also afoot to improve aid access to victims of the conflict in Syria. Syrian, Iranian and Swiss officials met in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

The meeting, the third between the three parties since April 2013, looked at “establishing more favourable conditions for humanitarian action”, said Manuel Bessler, the Swiss government’s delegate for humanitarian aid.

Bessler met Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Syrian counterpart Hussameddin Ala.

Tehran has been a key regional ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he has battled an uprising that erupted almost three years ago.

Officials from the three countries discussed securing access to war zones, obtaining visas for humanitarian workers, the number of NGOs permitted to work in Syria and ways of getting aid to those in need.

Bessler said 11 million Syrians are dependent on humanitarian aid.

The next meeting between the three sides has been slated for March, but the exact date and place of the talks have yet to be decided.

Categories: Europe, Switzerland, Syria

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