Since the restructuring of the asylum and refugee sector (NA-BE), rejected asylum seekers in the canton of Bern have to live in newly created return centers. For those affected, the new return centers mean an enormous deterioration in their living conditions. Their freedom of movement and quality of life are massively restricted. They are isolated and participation in society is specifically counteracted. We do not want to and cannot accept this and are firmly convinced that a right to participation does not depend on residence status. As long as someone lives here, he or she is part of society.
We call on civil society to resist and show solidarity with those affected!
Solidarity by means of private accommodation
Together we can resist the emergency regime and especially these isolation centers. The canton allows private accommodation with third parties as an alternative to the return center. So we can spare the affected people the life in these isolation centers, provided that enough solidary private persons can be found, who:
- Provide a free/low cost room,
- provide selective financial support to the person concerned,
- and enter into a corresponding contract with the migration service.
This way you can resist and show solidarity with those affected:
Support those affected with a donation (note «Nothilfe für abgewiesene Asylsuchende»)
The money is passed on to the people who provide private accommodation. They use it to finance the room offered and/or support the person in their living expenses.
Provide living space
Email us if you would like to provide living space.
Please let us know if you need a financial contribution to the rent.
We will put you in touch with affected individuals and look forward to you joining us in resisting and showing solidarity with the affected individuals!
The situation in the return centers is inhumane and untenable. Please share this call with your network so we can reach as many people as possible.
Rejected asylum seekers in emergency aid
People who flee to Switzerland and receive a negative asylum decision are “supported” exclusively by the emergency assistance regime. Article 12 of the Federal Constitution regulates emergency assistance. This states that emergency aid should enable all persons in need to lead a dignified existence. Unfortunately, emergency aid is currently being misused as an incentive system to drive people out of this country. It has degenerated into an instrument that keeps those affected alive, but imposes on them the most miserable existence possible. The authorities make no secret of this fact. For example, the 2011 service contract between a center-managing organization and a cantonal migration authority states under Objectives and purposes of the emergency assistance camp: “An emergency assistance camp forms the last safety net for persons obliged to leave the country (…). The defined setting is intended to help those who are obliged to leave the country to quickly make an effort to leave Switzerland on their own”. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
There is a lack of privacy, mobility and employment. The consequences of this inhumane “help” are disastrous: psychological and physical complaints are commonplace. Added to this is the lack of perspective, which robs many of their hope for a “normal” life. Many affected persons experience the shelters as prisons and wonder why, without having committed a crime, they have to serve such a sentence. Nevertheless, a considerable proportion of those affected persist for years under these conditions, as a return to their country of origin is out of the question for them due to the prospect of even worse conditions, out of sheer impossibility or even out of fear of torture and death.
Return centers as isolation centers
As if the current emergency aid regime were not bad enough, the inhumane situation is currently worsening in the canton of Bern. In the 2019 winter session, the Grand Council decided that rejected asylum seekers in the canton of Bern should now be housed in so-called return centers.
With NA-BE, hundreds of people were relocated from their existing place of residence (in an apartment or in collective housing for asylum seekers) to these three newly created return centers, located in Gampelen, Aarwangen and Biel. For the approximately 550 instructed asylum seekers – including about 100 children – who live in the canton of Bern, this means that they will be torn from their social networks. Maintaining this is practically impossible, as the mobility of those affected is severely restricted due to the very tightly calculated emergency aid and the restrictive attendance and registration requirements. In the new isolation centers, it is also almost impossible to build up a new social network, as they are very remote and the financial resources for public transport are simply not available. Furthermore, in Aarwangen the children concerned are to be denied access to a public school and lessons are to be organized in the center itself.
There is no denying that the return producers represent a tightening of the emergency aid regime. They bring no added value and have the sole purpose of isolation. In addition, very restrictive conditions prevail in the isolation centers – which are run by the for-profit company ORS. Only those who fulfill the daily signature requirement will receive Fr. 8.- per day for survival. Those affected are not allowed to work for money, nor voluntarily. They are not even compensated for cleaning the return center. Their freedom of movement and quality of life are massively restricted as a result. Participation in society is deliberately prevented. We do not want to and cannot accept this and are firmly convinced that a right to participation does not depend on residence status. As long as someone lives here, he or she is part of society!
We are looking for people who will provide housing for a concerned individual or family and enter into a contract with the Migration Service.
Contract for private accommodation:
Download PDF contract
Example private accommodation:
SRF feature: Why a married couple takes in a rejected Eritrean
The emergency aid costs per person and year amount to 2880 francs. With about 550 people, we in the canton of Berne have to raise about 1,580,000 Swiss francs to spare all those affected the existence in isolation centers for one year. If we manage to get every hundredth person in the canton of Bern to show solidarity, the amount per person will be around CHF 158 per year. This means about 13 francs per month.
- Der Bund – 11.03.2020 – Rückkehr in die Perspektivlosigkeit
- Der Bund – 09.03.2020 – Sie sollen nicht integriert werden
- SRF News – 24.02.2020 – Philippe Müller, sind die Rückkehrzentren eine gute Idee?
- Der Bund – 03.03.2020 – Endstation Rückkehrzentrum
- Republik – 19.04.2019 – Unsichtbare Grenzen
- WOZ – 07.02.2019 – Versorgt und vergessen
- WOZ – 21.03.2019 – Das Motto heisst Abschreckung und zwar um jeden Preis
- WOZ – 10.07.2014 – Nothilfe, die Not schafft