Our Activities as a Refugee Assistance Organisation

We help people in seeking protection in Switzerland from persecution, war and violence.

We serve as a point of contact for asylum seekers and refugees. Our experts give direct answers to phone inquiries or forward the inquiries to the competent parties. This service is free for people in need of our help.

We constantly compile and comment on important changes in asylum law and asylum law practices. We conduct continuing education events for legal experts and for professional personnel at the legal aid offices.

Social aid representation

Based on Art. 30 Asylum Act, a neutral observer is present as a representative of the social aid organisations and thus of the civil society at the hearings of asylum seekers by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) (the successor of the Federal Office for Migration FOM). The approach promotes a relaxed, humane atmosphere in which the asylum seekers can be free of fear when presenting their reasons for fleeing.

On behalf of the Confederation, we coordinate and train the social aid representatives so they can perform their job competently.

Systematic observation of asylum practices

The legal basis and legal provisions pertaining to the life of asylum seekers is under constant revision. We take part in this process with recommendations that are sent to the authorities and with public statements. We champion humane treatment of the persons concerned in accord with international law, support them during the asylum procedure and level criticism at shortcomings.

Country analyses

Independent information about the situation in the countries of origin are indispensable for the objective assessment of a person’s need for protection in the asylum procedure. We constantly research and publish current country analyses and draw up expert opinions on specific questions relevant to asylum. Our independent country analyses are regularly used as a basis for making decisions in procedures under asylum law, even abroad.

Education

Language skills and equal opportunities in the labour market are the primary factors for successful integration. We support refugees by making financial contributions to their education and training and we pay for language courses.

Our education team, which also has refugees working on it, stages project days about flight and asylum, integration and encounters. Young people and adults undergoing basic and continuing education and training gain insights into the living situation of refugees.

Raising public awareness

Only a well-informed public can make objectively correct and fair decisions on issues relating to law on asylum and foreign nationals. To this end, we perform politically and denominationally independent public education and information work via the print media, radio and TV that includes media releases and position papers and lobby on behalf of the rights and concerns of refugees and asylum seekers.

Our educational offerings are concrete examples of our public education efforts. We offer courses and continuing trainings for professionals in international teams, for teachers and for school classes.

Four times a year, we publish our magazine “Planète Exil” for a broad-based audience and the professional journal “Asyl” to experts in actual asylum law practice. The country reports and updates of our country analyses are compiled twice a year in a practical collection of texts. We also publish the “Handbuch zum Asyl- und Wegweisungsverfahren”, a manual on the asylum and removal procedure for experts in asylum practices and interested non-experts. An expanded new edition will be released in September 2015.

Internet platform

www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch offers asylum seekers quick advice on the complex Swiss asylum procedure, for instance with an overview of the procedure translated into 20 languages. Legal experts will find further information and country analyses. Anyone interested in their own continuing education might browse through the seminars we offer.

Those keen on staying fully abreast of current topics and debates in the asylum sector receive the content they need quickly at www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch and can go to Facebook and Twitter to join the debates or subscribe to our Newsletter. Media representatives will quickly find the information and direct contact partners they are looking for.

Events

The Swiss Refugee Council initiated Refugee Days in 1980. They have since become the most important awareness-raising initiative on asylum policy in Switzerland. Refugee Days are held every year on the third weekend in June at numerous venues throughout Switzerland. They are a big festival yet also days to reflect on and fight for the human right to asylum.

The Swiss Asylum Symposium is a national conference that we stage every two years jointly with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR. This professional conference is a platform for national and international experts from research and teaching, public administration, civil society and politics. The challenges facing the asylum and migration sector are analysed here and solutions discussed.