Posted 6 апреля 2022,, 09:10

Published 6 апреля 2022,, 09:10

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Different types of unfortunates: Switzerland accepts refugees from Syria and Ukraine in different ways

6 апреля 2022, 09:10
Despite the fact that people who fled hostilities in their countries have exactly the same needs, they receive completely different preferences.

The Zurich newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes about the strange, to put it mildly, attitude of the Swiss authorities towards refugees from different countries:

“A Ukrainian mother is allowed to live with her cousin after fleeing to Switzerland, a victim of the war in Syria is not: the wave of refugees exposes the weaknesses of asylum legislation.

Refugees are not all the same: in many areas of life, people from Ukraine enjoy better treatment and treatment than displaced people from other countries. This causes irritation.

Solidarity with refugees does not weaken even a month and a half after the start of the special operation. Other refugees can only dream of the support Ukrainians receive across Europe. This also applies to the favor of official Switzerland. From a legal point of view, Ukrainians are not refugees because they are not subjected to individual persecution. They receive what is known as S protection status. Their situation is best compared to displaced persons from other conflict zones who are temporarily admitted into the country (F protection status).

However, people who have arrived, for example, from Syria or Afghanistan, must hand over money and valuables in excess of 1,000 francs, but not more than 15,000 francs, to cover the costs incurred on them. These rules do not apply to refugees from Ukraine. Even the National Bank is trying to make sure that people can exchange their money for Swiss francs. Even pets are allowed.

Such differences irritate members of organizations helping refugees and experts. The fact that people with protection status S can use public transport free of charge until the end of May is also an indication of the kindness that other displaced people lack. Alberto Achermann, professor of migration law at the University of Bern, unequivocally calls this fact "shocking".

The region of the world from which people fled from hostilities greatly affects their life in Switzerland in all its aspects.

Arrival in Switzerland

While asylum-seekers and displaced persons usually first have to be in the federal center before being distributed to the cantons, Ukrainians are allowed to travel further directly, for example, to the private homes of host families. They can register even after admission.

Place of residence

Asylum-seekers are distributed among the cantons in accordance with the principle of proportionality. If necessary, the place of residence of spouses and children is taken into account. Ukrainians who have contacts in Switzerland, on the contrary, can choose their place of residence more freely. The place of residence of other relatives and friends is also taken into account. “It is not clear why not all refugees are allowed to use such diaspora connections in Switzerland,” the experts wonder.


Syrian displaced persons can only take paid work after obtaining prior permission. To do this, they must first go through the asylum procedure. At the same time, Ukrainians can start working after a short period of time.

Freedom of movement

Temporarily admitted persons are not allowed to travel abroad - not even to the Schengen area. This rule was adopted by Parliament in the winter. In principle, this also applies to persons with S protection status. But since Ukrainians do not need a visa, the Federal Council refrains from imposing a travel ban. Visiting an uncle in France or friends in Berlin is a taboo for Syrians, but not a problem for refugees from Ukraine.

Family reunification

Refugees with S protection status are entitled to the immediate arrival of family members in Switzerland. People with F status must wait three years for family reunification and also must not receive social assistance

Social help

Residents of Ukraine also enjoy certain benefits in terms of social assistance. They receive no more money than people with a protective F status, but the Committee for Social Assistance (Skos) recommends not to take into account cash and tangible assets in the home country for the time being. The same applies to jewelry and cars.


Refugees from Ukraine are allowed to bring dogs and cats into the country - despite the fact that Ukraine is a rabies zone. Almost five percent of Ukrainians take their pets with them, and the Swiss federal government has temporarily eased the conditions for importing dogs and cats from Ukraine.

The basic needs of all refugees are the same

According to some experts of the newspaper, the fact that the Syrians, unlike the Ukrainians, were not granted S protection status, despite the fact that their personal situation in their home country was often similar, can still be justified.

They do not consider it unacceptable to treat refugees unequally on the basis of the circumstances of their flight. The fact that Ukrainian refugees are not forced to sell their cars and personal belongings during the first six months of social assistance can be explained, for example, by the hope of a speedy return. Experts are sure that different situations should not be confused and talk about unequal treatment of refugees.

Other experts believe that unequal treatment after receiving the status is not understandable, since "basic needs are the same, regardless of whether a person fled from Syria or Ukraine".

The discussion on this topic is becoming more and more acute in the Swiss press.