The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Preparations for a Possible Return of Ukraine Refugees

The Swiss Federal Council has taken note of a provisional concept for the return of refugees from Ukraine, despite the fact that the end of the war is not foreseeable. The Status S, which was activated for the first time ever after Russia's attack on Ukraine in March 2022, allows refugees to be admitted without having to go through the regular asylum procedure. It is granted to Ukrainians and their close relatives, who can immediately take up work and send their children to school, as well as travel abroad and return to Switzerland. At the end of August 2023, around 65,400 people with protection status S were living in Switzerland. The protection status S is intended to be return-oriented, according to the Federal Council's statement on Friday. It only provides temporary protection in the event of a serious general danger. However, a safe return to Ukraine is currently not foreseeable. In order to plan ahead, the Federal Council has instructed the Department of Justice and Police, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the cantons to examine legal, organizational and procedural questions in connection with a possible future lifting of the protection status S. The purpose of the resulting provisional concept is that the parties can act in a coordinated manner when the refugees eventually return to their country. The concept includes operational measures and recommendations on departure deadlines, exceptions or the design of return assistance. If the lifting of the status S is foreseeable, the recommendations are to be reviewed and adapted to the current circumstances if necessary. Only then will the Federal Council decide, in consultation with the European countries, on the modalities for the lifting of the protection status. In November 2022, the Federal Council decided not to lift the status S until at least March 4, 2024. The Federal Council will decide in the coming weeks how to proceed with the status S afterwards. In the EU, Ukrainian war refugees are to enjoy special protection until at least March 2025. On Thursday, the EU Commission presented the EU interior ministers with a proposal to extend it by one year.


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