The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. Its mission is to promote the establishment of fair and humane European asylum policies and practices in accordance with international human rights law.

The Swiss Refugee Council is an active member of ECRE, taking part at meetings and being inter alia responsible for the AIDA Country Report for Switzerland, last updated in October 2015. The SRC legal unit is also linked internationally through the ELENA Network.


ECRE edits a Weekly Bulletin providing information about the latest European developments in the areas of asylum and refugee protection. Here you find a selection of News relevant for the SRC and Switzerland.

No change in deeply dysfunctional Dublin system
A statistical update published by ECRE’s Asylum Information Database (AIDA) releasing figures for 12 European countries from 2016 reveals persisting fundamental dysfunctions in the Dublin system. The main operators of the Dublin Regulation in 2016 were Germany with 55,690 requests and 3,968 transfers, Switzerland with 15,203 requests and 3,750 transfers and Sweden with 12,118 requests and 5,244 transfers.

ECRE Report: Pushed back at the door
The report «Pushed back at the Door» by five human rights NGOs shows that access to protection is increasingly limited in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. The report urges European governments to find the right balance between protecting borders and people.

ECRE Study: The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece
The EU ‘hotspot approach’ was designed to ensure operational support to Member States facing disproportionate migratory pressure. However, research reveals that the pressure in these countries is growing and the challenges in accessing protection are multiplying.

Positions of ECRE on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)
The European Commission has tabled seven legislative proposals for the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), in two packages published on 4 May and 13 July 2016. The proposals, which envisage far-reaching modifications to a range of areas affecting asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection, are currently under examination by the Council and European Parliament, with a view to defining their respective positions. For Switzerland especially the proposals on the reform of the Dublin system are of vital importance.

Undue protection restrictions for temporary admission beneficiaries
ECRE News: The Swiss Federal Council has published a report examining the application of the status of temporary admission. The report found that temporary admission negatively impacted beneficiaries’ access to rights and integration in practice. Temporary admission is a national protection status in Switzerland, different from subsidiary protection provided in the EU asylum acquis.

Admissibility, responsibility and safety in European asylum procedures
A report launched 7th September 2016 by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), documents the limited and fragmented application of admissibility and safe country concepts in 20 European countries.

With Greece: Recommendations for refugee protection
A report launched by The AIRE Centre and ECRE (published on 13 July) finds that refugees in Greece continue to face challenges in accessing asylum due to increased complexity and procedural layers, a lack of simple and unequivocal information, as well as significant gaps in legal assistance.

The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe
The AIDA-Thematic Report of March 2016 documents the recent situation of reception of asylum seekers in the 20 AIDA countries, bearing in mind the peculiar legal and policy context applicable in non-EU countries such as Turkey or Serbia, which may merit particular consideration.

Memorandum ̶ Time to Save the Right to Asylum
Ahead of the European Council Summit meeting of 17 and 18 March 2016, ECRE urges Heads of State or Government to assume political leadership and pave the way for a concerted EU response to what primarily continues to be a refugee crisis and not only a migratory phenomenon. Such a response must be based on the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility and respect for human rights.

Switzerland should not be sending asylum seekers back to Hungary
Interview with Grusa Matevzic, Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) ELENA-Coordinator during the ECRE-Meeting in Vienna on 15 January 2016.

Catherine Woollard appointed ECRE Secretary General
The ECRE Board is delighted to announce that, after a search process that attracted many strong candidates, Catherine Woollard has been appointed as the alliance’s new Secretary General, starting from 16 February 2016. She takes over from Michael Diedring, who served as Secretary General until 1 February.

Afghanistan is not a safe country
UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in coordination with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released the 2015 Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, documenting an increase in the numbers of civilian casualties compared with the previous year.

Barriers to an effective legal remedy in Turkey
ECRE Member, Refugee Rights Turkey, has published a paper on the barriers refugees in Turkey face accessing their right to an effective legal remedy, due to the complex arrangements for granting power of attorney. Refugee Rights Turkey calls on the authorities to make a number of changes in order to guarantee refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants access to a legal remedy.

Unwelcome to Denmark: bill proposal backtracks on refugees rights
The Danish Parliament debated this week a new bill that would further restrict the asylum space in the country: the proposed law will among other things authorise police to search belongings of refugees and asylum seekers and seize valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (around 1,400€) to contribute to the cost of their stay in the country.

Sweden: Proposed reforms are a draconian response to increase in refugees
AIDA Update Sweden: Proposed reforms are a draconian response to increase in refugees The updated AIDA report on Sweden provides information on proposed reforms to the asylum system in Sweden, following a rapid increase in refugees towards the end of 2015. With over 80,000 refugees arriving in September and October 2015 alone, reception facilities were put under severe pressure forcing some to sleep outdoors. In response to the rising numbers and strain on public services, the government proposed a number of draconian measures to dissuade asylum seekers from choosing Sweden.

Refugees waiting day and night in snowy winter conditions
Winter conditions in late December have made it extremely difficult for refugees crossing the Western Balkans. Refugees arrived on foot, in the snow and the cold, to Tabanovce in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), after having waited for hours, sometimes for a day and a night in difficult conditions, ECRE reports in the latest Western Balkan news brief, from 12 to 31 December.

Legal Briefing on Age Assessment
ECRE’s Asylum Information Database (AIDA) has published its fifth legal briefing on age assessment. Examining the core principles governing the treatment of children in the asylum process, namely the «best interests of the child» and the «benefit of the doubt», which together underpin all actions affecting children and requires public authorities to treat asylum seekers as children when in doubt as to their minority or majority. Source: Asylum Information Database (AIDA)

Security situation in Afghanistan
A number of EU countries have become increasingly restrictive in their policies towards Afghan asylum seekers, evidenced by a growing determination to deport them, despite ongoing security concerns and violence in the country. A report published by German ECRE member PRO ASYL now calls into question deportation policies of EU Member States. Also the SRC has recently published on this subject.

Mediterranean Sea is the world’s most dangerous migratory route
In October 2015, the European Parliament has published a study which provides a detailed overview of the legal framework protecting the rights of migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe by boat, and identifies how these rights may be violated at various stages of their journey.

The longer the wait, the more difficult it becomes
Integration can not be postponed: This brings out a conference addressing the opportunities and challenges related to the integration of refugees into the labour markets, held in Brussels on 18 November. An issue also the SRC is engaged in and will be discussed inter alia on the occasion of the 6th Swiss Asylum Symposium held on 21/22 January 2016 in Berne.

EU ministers agree on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis
Following another extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 November, EU interior ministers agreed on a number of measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis, including measures to overcome the potential lack of cooperation from people arriving into the EU.

Common Asylum System at a turning point
As the world is witnessing the largest displacement crisis since World War II, which is driving an unprecedented number of people fleeing war and persecution to undertake dangerous, life-threatening journeys to safety, the European Union’s common policy on asylum lacks solidarity and consistency, according to research from AIDA.

UK: Upper Tribunal publishes new Country Guidance case on Eritrea
The Upper Tribunal published a new Country Guidance case on Eritrea. The judgment confirms that Eritreans, who evaded military service and/or left the country illegally, continue to face a real risk of persecution, serious harm or ill-treatment if returned to Eritrea.