Swiss human rights activists are impressed by the situation with refugees and migrants in Transcarpathia


Delegation of representatives of Federal Migration Commission (FMC) arrived to Transcarpathia aiming at acquaintance with the activity of Temporary Holding Facilities, Temporary Detention Facilities for refugees, foreigners and stateless persons, experience exchange and discussion on possible cooperation. It was said during the press-conference in Uzhgorod press-club.   
As Nataliya Kabatsiy, director of CO “MACZ”, reported that during the week delegation got acquaintance with situation on migration in Transcarpathia. Swiss experts visited THFs, TDFs as well as had an opportunity to communicate with the public in the frames of the IIId Short Film Competition conducted by Medical Aid Committee in Zakarpattya.

Simon Podolie, director of FMC stressed: “Every day we are engaged in migration issues in our work, cooperate with NGOs in other countries. However, as Switzerland is located in the centre of Europe we are interested in looking at migration situation also beyond the borders of this union. We often call Europe as a fortress and we would like to acquaint with the situation “beyond the fortress”, what problems do people face living there. We were impressed by the work conducted here by NGOs as well as by those things we heard from governmental bodies.”

“We see actual problems existing here. We hear about insufficient support of EU that first of all is interested in protection of its borders. We feel how far we are in comprehension of the situation in such a distance from us. We will certainly share information about problems border guards, representatives of Migration Service and the public face in Ukraine with our set contacts with official governmental bodies in Switzerland”

Probably then, they will understand the situation beyond the borders of our country”, – S. Podolie summed up. The members of the delegation told that they were impressed by the work and enthusiasm with which specialists of Medical Aid Committee in Zakarpattya work. We also heard many impressive stories at different detention centers. We were also astonished by the communication with the border guards, especially with those who preserved humanity, frankness and understanding. “Namely these are little things form general impression about work”. – Simone says.

Carl Grunder, co-president of Association «Bistro Interculturel» told that Association headed by him was found 2 years ago by initiating group in Switzerland: “I am not for the first time in Transcarpathia, yet in the days of great floods I felt wish and ability to help as I specialized in the forestry. Since that time, voluntaries engaged in the aid projects created network Switzerland – Ukraine and did not stop assisting Transcarpathia. Concerning the present visit, it already touches migration problems”.

“I formed the impression that the majority of migrants arrived to Ukraine have not planned to live just here. They had to be rejected in many things. Some of them even invested all their property to this attempt of escape. Here, they face with administrative system introduced for them in a strange language and in most cases they do not understand the essence at all. Usually, such a situation is inherent to all cases of escape in every country. Much depends on the accompaniment, translation, will psychological aid be rendered, – Carl Grunder says. – I have not felt any tension or hostility on migration issues in Transcarpathia.”

Elizabeth Stainer, responsible for communication at FMC told about assistance that migrants can have in Switzerland. In case they cannot find any job, thus they get social public assistance from the government – somehow lower in comparison with the citizens’ of Switzerland, but contrary to Ukrainian single payment in the sum of 17 UAH (€1,7) comprises 6000 franc. Simultaneously, this sum is received not by a person but by a governmental body taking care of person’s integration into society, his/her visiting language courses, getting job, etc. Sum in comparison corresponds to two monthly not big salaries in Switzerland.

Federal Migration Commission (Eidgenössische Kommission für Migrationsfragen EKM) was found by Federal Council of Switzerland in 2008. Nowadays, it solves social, economic, cultural, demographic and legal problems appeared on the grounds of foreigners’ stay in Switzerland. Target group of Commission includes also asylum seekers, recognized refugees and persons having right of temporary stay. FMC is an important tool of knowledge transference on migration issues and takes part in the process of international experience exchange in the present sphere.