The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Charity: Swiss support of Ukrainian refugees fading

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 13 March 2023
Swiss residents are tired of sharing their homes with Ukrainian refugees – a sign that overall public support may be waning one year into the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.  
Charity: Swiss support of Ukrainian refugees fading
People walk past a Ukrainian refugee center in Zurich (Keystone SDA).

Support for the nearly 80,000 Ukrainian residents living in Switzerland is beginning to fade one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, according to Julia Peters, president of the Friends of Ukraine charity.

“Swiss host families are increasingly urging their guests to find their own accommodation and the willingness to provide voluntary support and donations is dwindling,” Peters told local newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

“I’ve got the impression that the Swiss are losing patience,” she said. Peters added that she believes that the Swiss may have forgotten that the refugees cannot easily return to their homes and may not be able to for a long time as the war rages on.

Charity: Swiss support of Ukrainian refugees fading
War protesters in Zurich in December, 2022 (Keystone SDA).
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Most of the 80,000 refugees from Ukraine in Switzerland have been granted a special “S” visa status allowing them to live and work in the country for an extended period of time. About 25,000 of those refugees have been housed by private Swiss residents, while the rest have largely been living in local centers set up through the government and Swiss military. But the system has been far from perfect.

“The state also makes too little use of the resources of volunteer associations,” Peters said. Refugees are willing to work and Switzerland is facing a shortage of workers; and yet, bureaucratic hurdles are preventing them from gaining employment.

Last year, nearly 40% of the Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland reported wanting jobs, but only 14% of all working-aged refugees have Swiss jobs currently, according to government data. And Swiss companies say they are eager to hire Ukrainians. But if a prospective employee’s profile does not match the Swiss job vacancy perfectly – for instance, they require a month’s worth of training – they are often overlooked.

Additionally, Ukrainian refugees’ university diplomas and degrees are not always recognized in Switzerland, so they can appear uneducated or unqualified. Meanwhile in countries like the Netherlands, nearly 50% of their 55,000 Ukrainian refugees have jobs and are happily contributing to their adopted home (Read more: Why the Swiss labor market is failing Ukrainians).

The shift in support is even noticeable in readers’ comments in newspaper articles. Readers say Ukrainians are getting “preferential treatment,” Peters said.  

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

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