FECL 34 (May 1995):


The Swiss federal Government has prolonged once more the final leaving date for asylum-seekers from the FRY (Serbia and Montenegro) whose application has been turned down. Some 5000 people, most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, are affected by the measure. A similar measure, pertaining to Bosnians, was decided at the end of March.

According to official Swiss assessment, the situation of Albanians in Kosovo (FRY) does generally not make them eligible for asylum. Consequently, most asylum applications have been finally rejected and the persons concerned were ordered to leave the country. However, the Swiss authorities have been unable to carry out deportations since 1993, when Macedonia revoked a transit agreement with Switzerland enabling the forcible return of Kosovo-Albanians and other holders of FRY-passports to Serbia. When Switzerland succeeded in negotiating another route via Bulgaria, the FRY began denying entry to their own nationals, returned by western European countries. Because of this technical impediment, the Swiss authorities decided to delay all deportations, pending negotiations with the Serbian Government (see FECL No.25: "Kosovo-Albanians in Switzerland: Temporary halt on deportations"; No.20: "Temporary haft in deportations to Kosovo"). A spokesman of the Federal Office for Refugees, however, made it clear, that Switzerland was still determined to carry out the deportations, as soon as a solution could be found, and that Switzerland was seeking to coordinate its actions with those of Germany and Sweden.

Should a return of the rejectees prove impossible after the new January 1996 time limit, the more than 5,000 Albanians and other FRY pass-holders currently tolerated without status in Switzerland will be granted "temporary reception". Under this scheme, the refugees are granted access to social assistance, may work, and have a right to appeal against the withdrawal of their stay permit.

On 29 March, the Swiss Federal Government had already decided to prolong the validity of its "special regulation" concerning Bosnian refugees with temporary stay permits. According to the decision, approximately 10,000 Bosnians are allowed to remain in the country until the end of April 1996.


Sources: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 18.5.95; Press release, EJPD (Federal Department of Justice and Police), 29.3.95; Press documentation, BFF (Federal Office for Refugees).