Women in headscarves, children and men stand at an escalator at Zurich airport.
A group of Syrian refugees lands at Zurich airport under the resettlement programme. (photo: SEM © Gerry Amstutz)

Resettlement is the admission of particularly vulnerable refugees in a third country, where they are granted refugee status and the opportunity to integrate.

Since the ratification of the Geneva Convention in 1955, Switzerland has regularly taken in refugee groups through resettlement. From such quotas benefited amongst others refugees from Hungary, Tibet, Indochina (Boat People), Chile, Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia and former Yugoslavia.

When large numbers of refugees from former Yugoslavia arrived in Switzerland in the 1990s, the Federal Council temporarily suspended the resettlement of refugees.

Resettlement programmes since 2013

In the face of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Federal Council decided to resume the admission of vulnerable refugees via resettlement in 2013. Since then, based on several ad-hoc decrees, around 4,300 refugees have been resettled to Switzerland by early 2020 in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR.

In its decrees of 30 November 2018 and 29 May 2019, the Federal Council decided to continue the Swiss participation under the UNHCR’s resettlement programme. In view to improve planning, the Federal Council henceforth intends to adopt a resettlement programme every two years within the range of 1,500 to 2,000 refugees.

Resettlement programmes since 2013

Resettlement 2022/2023

On 19 May 2021, the Federal Coucil approved the admission of up to 1,600 particularly vulnerable refugees for 2022/23. In addition, 220 places will be carried over from the 2020/21 program. The focus continues to be on refugees from crisis contexts in the Middle East and along the migratory route across the central Mediterranean.

As of 1 April 2023, the FDJP, on the recommendation of the Special Asylum Task Force (SONAS) and in consultation with the cantons, has suspended the admission of groups of resettlement refugees in order to take into account the heavy pressure on the Swiss asylum system.

Resettlement 2024/2025

At its meeting on 16 June 2023, the Federal Council gave the green light for the resettlement program of the years 2024 and 2025. During this period, Switzerland can receive up to 1600 refugees in need of special protection who are in a precarious situation in countries of first asylum. The geographical priorities are the same as in the 2022/23 program.

However, the program will only be activated after consultation with the cantons and municipalities and on condition that the situation regarding the accommodation and care of persons from the asylum sector has eased significantly.

Last modification 01.11.2023

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