Operation Papyrus: A new life for 1,000 illegal immigrants in Geneva


Around 70% of undocumented migrants regularised under Geneva’s Papyrus scheme are female domestic workers(Getty Images)

Some 76,000 illegal and undocumented immigrants are believed to be living in Switzerland. The canton of Geneva – home to 13,000 of them – launched a pilot project in 2015 to go about regularising them. What progress has been made?

“I heard that things were better in Switzerland,” says Purevmaa from Mongolia, recalling how she began her “underground” life here 13 years ago. Today, she is one of the 1,093 beneficiaries of the Papyrus projectexternal link, a unique pilot scheme aiming to regularise long-term undocumented workers in Geneva.

Since 2005, the year she arrived in Switzerland, Purevmaa has taken on domestic work as a means of earning a living.

“A lot of other women from my country had found good jobs in Geneva,” she says. “I decided to come. I arrived when I was 24, with another girl from Mongolia, whose brother was already here. We stayed with him and found work.”



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